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Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions
Shahram Chubin

Washington, D.C.
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© 2006 Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. All rights reserved.

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication data
Chubin, Shahram.
Iran's nuclear ambitions / Shahram Chubin.
p. cm.
Summary: “Iranian-born Shahram Chubin narrates the recent history of Iran's nuclear
program and diplomacy, and argues that the central problem is not nuclear technology
but rather Iran's behavior as a revolutionary state with ambitions that collide with the
interests of its neighbors and the West”—Provided by publisher.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN-13: 978-0-87003-230-1 (pbk.)
ISBN-10: 0-87003-230-5 (pbk.)
ISBN-13: 978-0-87003-231-8 (cloth)
ISBN-10: 0-87003-231-3 (cloth)
1. Nuclear weapons—Iran. 2. Iran—Military policy. 3. Nuclear arms control—Iran.
I. Title.

UA853.I7C497 2006
355.02'170955–dc22 2006018183

11 10 09 08 07 06 12345 1st Printing 2006
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For Nasrin and Nanaz
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Foreword by Jessica T. Mathews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii
Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xi
Acronyms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xii
Iranian Nuclear Chronology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiv

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
1 The View from Tehran . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
2 Nuclear Energy Rationale, Domestic Politics,
and Decision Making . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
3 Fear of a Nuclear Iran . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
4 Iran’s Negotiating Strategy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
5 The International Response . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
6 Iran and Regional Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113
Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134

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vi | Contents

Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149
Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .205
Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 209
About the Author . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .223
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .224
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ran’s nuclear program looms ever larger among international
threats. Were Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, it could menace
whose existence Iran does not recognize, blackmail smaller
neighboring states, and possibly deter the United States from ful-
filling security guarantees to regional states or projecting power
throughout the Persian Gulf. A nuclear Iran could be emboldened
to foment political unrest throughout the Middle East, especially in
countries with large Shiite minorities. Moreover, if Iran were to
succeed in continuing to defy IAEA and, perhaps, UN Security
Council demands to come back into compliance with its non-pro-
liferation obligations, the effectiveness of the non-proliferation
regime would be gravely undermined. The international commu-
nity, particularly the UN Security Council, would be exposed as
unwilling or unable to enforce vital global rules. The world would
appear ever more disordered.
While Iranian leaders insist their intentions are entirely peace-
ful, three years of intensive investigation by the International
Atomic Energy Agency (chronicled in twelve agency reports) have
failed to resolve the issues arising from nearly two decades of Ira-
nian violations of its safeguard commitments. These violations and
ongoing Iranian resistance to transparency measures demanded by

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viii | Foreword

the IAEA’s board of governors heighten fears that Iran does seek the
capability to build nuclear weapons.
Decision making works by elite consensus in Iran but the elite
is not monolithic—it is as segmented as the rest of the society.
While its members believe Iran should develop nuclear technology
as other major powers do, opinions differ on the manner in which
the technology has been pursued and the wisdom of confronting
the international community and defying the Security Council. The
elite are divided more broadly on their willingness to engage the
United States, to seek a “grand bargain,” and to embrace globaliza-
tion and act as a “normal,” non-revolutionary state. That is, they are
divided on the conditions under which they would give up the
drive for fuel cycle capabilities that would give Iran a nuclear
weapon option.
While the international implications of Iran’s nuclear activities
have been widely analyzed, the domestic factors that determine
who makes decisions in Iran and why have largely been ignored in
the West. Iran remains a country of unique complexity and contra-
dictions. It has a quasi-representative government, claiming pop-
ular support, but also suffering legitimacy and economic problems.
Iranians are fiercely independent and proudly nationalistic, united
in resisting foreign dictation. But they are not as one in believing
that the nuclear issue is the most important issue for the country—
most citizens have other priorities.
Subterranean tensions within Iran have intensified since the
June 2005 election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as President. A pop-
ulist and fundamentalist, Ahmadinejad harked back to the original
principles of the revolution. His brand of revolutionary rhetoric
and hypernationalism combined with calls for more social justice
resonated with a neglected constituency in the country. In fusing
two features of contemporary Iran, militant nationalism and revo-
lutionary defiance, Ahmadinejad reduces Iran’s room for maneuver
and makes a difficult issue more intractable.
Shahram Chubin’s analysis is the most trenchant English-
language treatment to date of how Iran’s domestic dynamics,
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Foreword | ix

regional interests, and worldview shape the country’s decision mak-
ing regarding nuclear technology. Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions integrates
this comprehensive analysis with an assessment of the international
community’s attempts to bring Iran into compliance with its non-
proliferation obligations. The result is a uniquely well-rounded
treatment of the Iranian nuclear challenge.
Chubin adeptly describes the ambivalence of Western policy
that, reflecting differences between the United States and France,
Germany, and the United Kingdom, has been torn between promot-
ing “critical dialogue,” constructive engagement, and inducement,
on one side, and containment, sanctions, and regime change on the
other. He argues forcefully that Iran will be unmoved as long as the
international community does not employ a more balanced policy
that both neutralizes Iran’s threat and provides incentives for evo-
lution and accommodation. To achieve such a balance, the Euro-
pean states and Russia and China must demonstrate a greater
willingness to exert stringent political and economic pressure on
Iran in cooperation with the United States, while the United States
must show that it is genuinely prepared to establish positive rela-
tions with the constitutional government of Iran. The countries
negotiating with Iran cannot find the proper mix of isolation and
cooperation, pressure and reward, if they do not take into account
the divisions within Iran and the divergent interests they reflect.
Chubin argues that the distinction between engaging with Iran
and seeking to change its government is false and therefore part of
the problem. In his view, engagement is not an alternative to regime
change but a precursor and stimulant to it, in the sense of evolu-
tionary change driven by domestic forces. Opening up Iran by
embracing it, he argues, will liberate pent-up dynamics for change.
It is this element that the Iranian elite fears and resists, preferring
embattlement and isolation in order to keep their hold on power.
Focusing on the Iranian people and their welfare and human rights
is therefore an important ingredient of a successful non-prolifera-
tion policy. Understanding this proposition suggests a substantial
broadening of Western policy concerns.
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x | Foreword

This work is a welcome new baseline from which policy mak-
ers, scholars, journalists, and students can acquire deeper under-
standing and better ideas for addressing the interests of the Iranian
people as well as the international community. Iran will not be bul-
lied into submitting to policies that do not fit the country’s history,
self-image, and interests. At the same time, the international com-
munity’s legitimate interest in preventing Iran from acquiring
nuclear weapons is enormous and must be vigorously—and
intelligently—pursued. Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions offers insights into
how this can be done. It is a model blend of historical knowledge,
contemporary analysis, and policy prescription.

Jessica T. Mathews
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
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am indebted to many colleagues for discussions on this issue over
the past years. They are too numerous to mention but include
Cordesman, Joseph Cirincione, Thérèse Delpech, Bob Ein-
horn, Ariel Levite, Harald Muller, Vladimir Orlov, John Simpson,
Scott Sagan, Paul Stares, and Pal Sidhu. For their encouragement I
would especially single out Geoff Kemp, Rob Litwak, and Gary
Samore. I am grateful to George Perkovich, who improved the draft
with suggestions to make it more readable and guided it to publi-
cation, which he has made possible. The team at Carnegie who
edited and tightened the manuscript also have helped the author
immeasurably. Finally, I am grateful to Paul Clark and especially to
Katya Shadrina, who have helped with indispensable research assis-
tance, facilitating the completion of the book. To all of the above,
I express my appreciation for making a difficult job more bearable.
None is responsible for any errors or shortcomings.

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AP Additional Protocol
AEO Atomic Energy Organization of Iran
EU European Union
EU-3 Grouping consisting of Great Britain, France, and Ger-
FAS Federation of Atomic Scientists
G-8 Grouping of top industrialized nations of the world:
United States, Japan, UK, Germany, France, Italy,
Canada, and Russia (also known as the G7+1).
GCC Gulf Cooperation Council
GPS Global positioning system
IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency
ILSA Iran and Libya Sanctions Act
IRI Islamic Republic of Iran
IRGC Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (or Pasdaran)
IISS International Institute for Strategic Studies
MOK Mujahideen i-Khalq, Iranian opposition group
NAM Non-Aligned Movement
NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization
NFZ Nuclear-free zone
NMD National Missile Defense
NNWS Non-nuclear-weapons-state

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Acronyms | xiii

NPT Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
NW Nuclear weapon
NWS Nuclear weapons state
P-5 Permanent five members of the United Nations Security
PSI Proliferation Security Initiative
SCO Shanghai Cooperation Organization
SCIRI Supreme Council for the Islamic Republic of Iraq
SCUD Ballistic missile, derived from the German World War II
V-2 rocket
SNSC Supreme National Security Council
UCF Uranium Conversion Facility
UN United Nations
UNSC United Nations Security Council
UNSCOM United Nations Special Commission
WMD Weapons of mass destruction
WMDFZ Weapons of mass destruction free zone
WTO World Trade Organization
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Iranian Nuclear Chronology


August 14 Alireza Jafarzadeh of the National Council of Resistance of
Iran (NCRI) reveals to IAEA that Tehran not only possesses its
declared nuclear power plant at Bushire but also two undis-
closed nuclear facilities: a uranium enrichment facility at
Natanz and a heavy water plant at Arak.
September 1 Russian technicians start construction of nuclear reactor at
Bushire, amid strong U.S. objections. Iran notifies the IAEA
that it is building new facilities as a step toward developing a
nuclear fuel cycle.
December 13 U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher con-
cludes that Iran is “actively working to develop nuclear-
weapons capability,” releasing satellite images of sites at
Natanz and Arak.
December 18 Iran’s President Mohammad Khatami states that “Iran is work-
ing under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy
Agency, and Iran is a signatory to the [nuclear] Non-
proliferation Treaty and does not seek nuclear arms,” reject-
ing U.S. allegations of Iran aspiring to develop a nuclear
weapons capability.


January 10 North Korea withdraws from the Treaty on the Non-
Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

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Iranian Nuclear Chronology | xv

February 9 President Khatami announces Iran’s intent to exploit uranium
mines in Savand region, with ambitions for a complete
nuclear fuel cycle, despite agreement for Russia to provide all
necessary uranium fuel for lifetime of Bushire reactor. Plants
are to be set up at Isfahan and Kashan for this purpose.
February 13 U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell warns Congress to be
prepared for a “fairly long-term commitment” in Iraq.
February 25 IAEA Director-General Mohammad Al Baradei inspects
Natanz and Arak, following several postponements of such a
visit by the Iranians. Inspection team detects breach of NPT.
Al Baradei reports being “taken aback” by the advanced state
of Iran’s program. Iran agrees to discuss additional protocols
in future negotiations.
March 11 Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEO) Deputy Director
Assadollah Saburi announces Iran’s opposition to signing
Additional Protocols to the NPT that would allow unan-
nounced inspections due to already imposed sanctions. A
readiness to sign if sanctions are dropped is expressed.
March 20 U.S. invasion of Iraq commences.
April 24 Al Baradei urges Iran to sign Additional Protocol allowing
inspections of undeclared suspected nuclear sites. Khatami
asks: “Why do countries possessing such [civilian atomic
energy] technology not respect the principles of the non-
proliferation treaty by not helping us acquire it?”
June 6 IAEA issues report to thirty-five member countries on nuclear
safeguards in Iran, in preparation for the IAEA Board of Gov-
ernors meeting in Vienna, describing breaches of NPT on
several accounts by Iran. Iran issues a report about construc-
tion of a heavy water production plant at Arak.
June 19 IAEA reports that “Iran has failed to meet its obligations
under the Safeguards Agreement with respect to the report-
ing of nuclear material, the subsequent processing and use of
the material and the declaration of facilities where the mate-
rial was stored and processed,” although it stops short of
referring Iran to the UN Security Council. IAEA requires Iran
to produce a report divulging all nuclear and nuclear-related
capabilities and technology with a complete chronology. IAEA
report mentions several finds of highly enriched uranium in
Iranian centrifuges at various sites. Iran, although admitting
to uranium conversion experiments in the 1990s, suggests it
must have acquired contaminated centrifuge components
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xvi | Iranian Nuclear Chronology

from abroad, sparking new investigations into Iran’s foreign
September 12 IAEA resolution calls for Iran’s full cooperation with IAEA
investigations, transparency, and cessation of uranium enrich-
ment–related activities by October 31. United States
announces that this resolution is Iran’s last chance before
referral to UN Security Council.
October 10 Hasan Rowhani is officially appointed as head of Iranian
nuclear “dossier.”
October 21 France, Great Britain, and Germany (EU-3) broker deal with
Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, albeit temporarily. Iran
also agrees to “address and resolve ... all requirements and
outstanding [IAEA] issues,” as well as sign and ratify addi-
tional protocols (known as Tehran agreement).
November 10 IAEA report issued suggesting that despite clear breaches to
its obligations according to the safeguard agreements, there is
no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program follow-
ing Iranian nuclear confessions. United States disagrees, call-
ing IAEA conclusion “impossible to believe.”
November 21 Iran proposes signing the Additional Protocol to the NPT,
allowing for unannounced inspections, which is welcomed
by the IAEA.
November 26 IAEA Board of Governors resolution adopted “strongly
deploring Iran’s past failures and breaches of its obligation to
comply with the provisions of its Safeguards Agreement.”
Resolution includes trigger mechanism for immediate IAEA
meeting if “any further serious Iranian failures come to light.”
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is “very satisfied” with the
November 29 Iran has “voluntarily and temporarily” suspended uranium
enrichment program, according to Hasan Rowhani, Secre-
tary General of Iran’s Supreme National Secretary Council. He
adds that the program was “not in question and never has
been, nor will be.”
December 18 Iran signs the Additional Protocol to NPT, although its par-
liament needs to ratify the protocol before it enters into legal
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Iranian Nuclear Chronology | xvii


February 12 Previously undisclosed centrifuge designs found by IAEA.
Pakistan suspected of providing both centrifuge and nuclear
weapon designs to Iran, following AQ Kahn admissions about
proliferation ring on February 4.
February 13 Hamid Reza Asefi, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, clarifies
that Iranian advances toward nuclear fuel cycle technology
were an attempt to overcome U.S. sanctions, ensuring self-
sufficiency. He adds that Iran is in favor of banning WMDs.
February 24 Al Baradei issues report noting Iran’s continuing failure to
resolve IAEA’s concerns about its nuclear program.
March 9 NCRI’s former spokesman Alireza Jafarzadeh alleges that Ira-
nian leaders have recently ruled on acquiring nuclear
weapons “at all costs,” by the end of 2005 at the latest.
March 13 Iran bans inspectors in protest of IAEA resolution condemn-
ing Iranian failure to disclose all its nuclear activities.
April 6 Al Baradei and Iran agree on joint plan to resolve IAEA con-
cerns by disclosing information about its centrifuge program
by the end of April.
May 10 Nuclear site at Lavizan that was under investigation by the
IAEA is destroyed by Tehran.
June 18 IAEA resolution adopted condemning Iran’s failure to comply
with inspectors, urging a more forthcoming approach by Iran.
Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Hasan Rowhani responds by
informing the IAEA that in the following days, Iran would
decide on whether to resume its uranium enrichment pro-
gram. He accuses the EU-3 of violating the October 2003
June 24 Iran informs the EU-3 of its intention to resume its uranium
enrichment program, effectively canceling the October 2003
August 17 U.S. Under Secretary of State John Bolton claims that Iran
admitted to the EU-3 that it was able to enrich enough ura-
nium within a year to produce a nuclear weapon.
August 31 Iranian Information Minister Ali Younesi announces the arrest
of several Mujahideen i-Khalq (MOK) members for “transfer-
ring Iran’s nuclear information (out of the country).”
September 20 IAEA requests suspension of Iranian uranium enrichment
program at the IAEA’s 48th General Conference.
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xviii | Iranian Nuclear Chronology

November 15 Iran agrees to the “Paris agreement,” suspending uranium
enrichment and related activities following talks with the EU-
3. According to Hasan Rowhani, this is done “to improve
relations with the West.” Al Baradei reports to the IAEA that
all known Iranian nuclear material has been accounted for
but added that the IAEA cannot rule out any undeclared


January 6 Iran agrees to allow IAEA visit to Parchin military site, follow-
ing transparency issues. Visit limited to one of four areas
identified to be of interest.
February 9 According to President Khatami, Iran will never give up its
rights to peaceful nuclear technology.
February 10 North Korea admits to having nuclear weapons.
March 1 Al Baradei expresses concern about Iran not fully cooperat-
ing with inspections, although highlights that no new evi-
dence of illicit activities has come forth. Iran is reported to
still be in compliance with the Paris agreement.
March 12 Bush backs EU negotiations with Iran, offering to lift U.S.
block on Iranian World Trade Organization membership as
an incentive for Iran to comply.
April 30 President Khatami states that a complete halt of uranium
enrichment is unacceptable, although he is willing to nego-
tiate or compromise.
May 24 EU-3 officials meet with Iranian counterparts in Geneva,
pending Iranian intentions of recommencing uranium pro-
cessing at Isfahan. Iran is warned of being referred to the
Security Council if this occurs. Iranians agree to suspend ura-
nium processing in lieu of new European proposal due at the
end of July.
July 26 President Khatami issues statement declaring Iran’s intent to
resume part of its nuclear fuel cycle program, regardless of
European proposals.
August 2 President Khatami steps down. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
elected to succeed him.
August 3 Official U.S. study puts Iranian nuclear capability a decade
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Iranian Nuclear Chronology | xix

August 5 Europe proposes economic and political cooperation if
Tehran relinquishes nuclear fuel aspirations.
August 6 Iran rejects European proposal, stating it does not meet Iran’s
minimum expectations. Europe cancels further negotiations.
August 8 Isfahan facility resumes uranium processing.
August 11 IAEA adopts resolution expressing concern over Iran’s August
1 notification to the IAEA of resumed uranium conversion at
August 15 President Ahmadinejad appoints Ali Larijani to replace Hasan
Rowhani as head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Coun-
August 23 Independent research reveals that weapons-grade uranium
found mid-2003 was due to contaminated equipment from
Pakistan, not Iranian activities. The United States dismisses
this report.
August 27 Larijani states that Iran respects its commitment to the NPT.
September 2 IAEA Board of Governors reports progress over Iranian
nuclear issue but calls for improved transparency and coop-
eration from Iran. Agency reiterates it cannot be sure there are
no undeclared sites.
September 6 International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) dossier on
Iran estimates Iran is several years away from a nuclear capa-
bility, given technical problems.
September 15 President Ahmadinejad reaffirms Iran’s right to nuclear energy
at a speech held at the UN 60th Session.
September 20 North Korea agrees to give up its “existing nuclear weapons”
and return to the NPT after talks with the United States.
North Korea announces plans to commence a peaceful
nuclear energy program.
September 24 IAEA resolution warning Iran of referral to the UN Security
Council, unless measures are taken to increase transparency
measure, reestablish suspension of enrichment-related activ-
ity, and reconsider heavy water research reactor.
September 25 Iran rejects IAEA resolution.
October 13 Iran agrees to resume talks with EU-3.
October 26 Iranian President Ahmadinejad declares in a speech that Israel
should be “wiped off the map.”
November 24 IAEA Board of Governors’ meeting addresses verification of
Iran’s nuclear program.
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xx | Iranian Nuclear Chronology


January 3 Iran informs IAEA of its intent to resume research and devel-
opment of peaceful nuclear technology.
January 10 Iran removes IAEA seals at enrichment sites.
January 16 P-5 (permanent five members of the UN Security Council)
meets in London to discuss the Iranian nuclear crisis.
January 18 IAEA decides to hold a special meeting on Iran on February
January 25 Hamas wins Palestinian parliamentary election.
February 2 IAEA Board of Governors meets to consider a draft resolution
calling for Iran to be referred to the Security Council (sup-
ported by EU-3, Russia, China, and the United States).
February 4 Resolution adopted by IAEA Board of Governors, calling for
IAEA Director-General to refer Iran to the UN Security Coun-
cil with a 27 to 3 majority (5 abstentions).
February 9 U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accuses Iran and
Syria of inciting violence over the Mohammad cartoon con-
February 17 Iranian foreign minister calls for the United Kingdom to leave
March 1 Negotiations on Russian proposal begin in Moscow.
March 8 IAEA submits report on Iran’s nuclear program to the UN
Security Council.
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n its twenty-seventh year, it is not clear whether the government
of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) still rejects the international
and seeks to overturn it, or is striving to improve its posi-
tion within the system. This question is posed starkly with respect
to Iran’s quest for a nuclear capability. Important as it is to keep the
Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) intact,
it appears doubly so when faced by the threat of a revolutionary
Iran seeking a nuclear capability. Given the nature of the Iranian
regime and its past behavior, Iran’s nuclear aspirations appear
incompatible with the maintenance of the current regional system.
The Middle East in particular and the global order more generally
are thus challenged by Iran’s quest for nuclear status.
Iran’s drive for specific nuclear technology that could be used for
weapons purposes raises a number of questions for the interna-
tional community. The more specific issues relate to Iran’s particu-
lar case as a revolutionary state, accused of sponsoring terrorism
and located in a sensitive geopolitical zone that has seen three wars
in the past decade and a half. The stakes are compounded because
since September 11, 2001, the relationship between terrorism and
proliferation—and rogue states and weapons of mass destruction
(WMD)—has become the foremost security issue. In the U.S. view

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2 | Introduction

at least, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq attest to the fact that pro-
liferation, terrorism, and the role of rogue states constitute threats
that must be dealt with urgently and firmly. In this view, the “nexus
of extremism and technology” suggests massive-scale danger from
actors that may not be deterrable. Particularly in the Middle East,
the U.S. response has been forward defense, preemption, and
regime change.
The broader issues include the possible breakdown of the non-
proliferation regime through further proliferation and recognition
that the NPT may allow a state to get perilously close to acquiring
nuclear weapons. The need to plug gaps in the treaty and to
strengthen enforcement poses enormous political problems in the
international system.

Global Context

The 9/11 attacks on the United States changed U.S. strategic prior-
ities. In the 1990s non-proliferation and its link to rogue states
had been identified as a priority in the post–Cold War era. These
same states sponsored terrorism as well, but at this juncture terror-
ism was still seen as largely a law enforcement issue rather than a
priority—a nuisance rather than a strategic threat. After 9/11, ter-
rorism was transformed into a major threat, but the possibility that
it might be married to WMD elevated it to a priority consistent with
the risks it posed as an existential threat. Now the outlaw states
became potential enablers of terrorist groups and potential suppli-
ers of WMD to those who sought to inflict the maximum destruc-
tion on the United States. These states, dubbed the “axis of evil” in
January 2002, were now clearly assimilated into the War on Terror-
ism. The United States’ dark view of the world, based on the trauma
of 9/11, was followed by a determination to prepare against any
future surprise.
It soon became apparent that the rogue states had indeed coop-
erated in the area of WMD. North Korea and Pakistan had
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Introduction | 3

exchanged expertise on nuclear and missile technology and
weapons plans. North Korea and Iran had cooperated in the devel-
opment of missile and possibly nuclear technology as well. Pakistan
had provided, albeit unofficially through the AQ Khan network,
technology and weapons designs to Libya and Iran.1 What was
referred to as a “nuclear Wal-Mart” reflected the global diffusion of
technology and the porousness of borders in a globalized world.2
Now nonstate actors, whether motivated by profit or ideology,
could further proliferation unconstrained by the legal instruments
that had been devised for states.
The United States reacted by hardening its policy. It saw no need
to get permission from others to see to its own defense or to require
weak and elusive multilateral consensus in order to act. The United
States thus moved away from the reciprocal obligation that had
been the core of the WMD order in the Cold War era toward a
hegemonic order based on coercion rather than consensus.3 This
move away from a rules-based global order underlies the deeper
crisis of legitimacy the NPT regime faces.4
Therefore, while the threat posed by nuclear proliferation has
increased because of its possible link with terrorism and because of
the diffusion of technologies and knowledge, the political context has
become less conducive to effective and legitimate (that is, collective)
responses. Iran has played on these divisions to cover its programs.
And it is this current malaise that has led to the invocation of the
image of a cascade of proliferation if current trends persist.5
In dealing actively with the proliferation threat posed by Iraq in
2003, the United States has gone from a high point of regional power
to a position in which its credibility is damaged and it is embroiled
in an internal conflict whose outcome looks, at best, unsure. The
regional context has therefore improved for Iran since 2003.
As the military threat has passed, Iran has challenged the United
States’ creation of a new regional order. Buttressed by record oil rev-
enues and leverage afforded it by a tight oil market, Iran has acted
more confidently. In Iraq it has become a clear influence, and in the
IAEA it has used the nonaligned states’ sympathy to slip out of
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4 | Introduction

constraints imposed by the EU-3 (Great Britain, France, and Ger-
many) negotiations. Since August 2005 Tehran has moved to con-
solidate its mastery of the fuel cycle, confident in its ability to
deflect or manage a referral to the UN Security Council (UNSC).
The United States has yet to adopt a formal policy toward Iran.
Despite concern about terrorism and non-proliferation and ful-
minations about the nature of the regime in Tehran, Washington
has an attitude rather than a considered, measured policy. Luke-
warm support for European diplomacy, insistence on referral to
the Security Council (without a strategy once there), and brandish-
ing a military option (but refusing direct involvement) does not
amount to a policy.
The key issue concerning Iran’s nuclear ambitions is Tehran’s
quest for the full fuel cycle, which would put it within months (if
not days) of a weapons capability. The United States and the EU-3
seek to constrain Iran’s access to this technology or to induce it to
forgo it in exchange for privileged access to less sensitive technol-
ogy. But Iran insists on full fuel cycle autonomy. Negotiations have
revolved around this issue, with incomplete results. The basic issue
is one of trust: The West does not trust Iran with the technology,
and Iran refuses to relinquish it. Negotiations have focused on what
would constitute reassurance for the West and still enable Iran to
access the technology. Given Iran’s past record of nondeclaration of
activities and dissimulation and the accompanying distrust of Iran’s
intentions, the West has concluded that it cannot give Iran the ben-
efit of the doubt.
Assuming that Iran’s technical capabilities remain limited in the
next five years, the issue will remain whether Iran will persist in its
attempt to acquire a nuclear capability by stages. Iran has sought
to appeal to the developing states by depicting pressures on it as
discriminatory and a denial of its rights under the NPT. By for-
mally, if selectively, cooperating with the IAEA, avoiding major
provocations, and gearing its acts to limited measures insufficient
to justify a major punitive response, Iran has sought to minimize
its exposure to concerted international pressure. Iran also encour-
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Introduction | 5

ages and cultivates divisions among the major powers to continue
on its course. Tehran counts on U.S. distraction (Iraq, Afghanistan,
energy prices, Hurricane Katrina, and elections) and EU divisions
and preoccupations (elections, terrorism, immigration and
economies, EU referenda) to derail any momentum for sanctions.
In the absence of a smoking gun and its expressions of willingness
to negotiate, Iran expects the incentives for referral to the Security
Council to be reduced for two reasons: first, it believes that the out-
come of such a referral is uncertain; and second, its threats to react
strongly if the matter is referred to the Security Council have raised
the stakes considerably. By demonstrating division the Security
Council would signal its impotence but a united council might
only be possible by showing a different form of weakness—
watering down its demands. It remains unclear what cost the major
powers are willing to impose on a suspect proliferant and what
price that state, Iran, is willing to pay to get close to a nuclear
weapons capability.
The difficulty posed by states seeking technology that brings
them close to a bomb is not simply one of evil outlaw states. The
NPT was always Janus-faced, at once promoting nuclear technol-
ogy (Article IV) and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. The
problem, as Albert Wohlstetter remarked in the 1970s, is that the
technologies are essentially the same. The spread of nuclear tech-
nology, legitimate and even encouraged by NPT rules, can bring
states close to a weapons capability. Without diversion and “with-
out plainly violating their agreement,” states “can come within
hours of a bomb.”6 It is no wonder that thirty years later President
Bush can remark that “we must therefore close the loopholes that
allow states to produce nuclear materials that can be used to build
bombs under cover of civilian nuclear programs.”7 This sentiment
was echoed by U.S. officials in the 2005 NPT review conference
with specific reference to Iran: “Some countries, such as Iran, are
seeking these facilities (uranium enrichment or plutonium repro-
cessing plants), either secretly or with explanations that cannot
withstand scrutiny. We dare not look the other way.... We must
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6 | Introduction

close the loopholes in the Treaty that allow the unnecessary spread
of such technologies.”8
The problem is that tightening the treaty without renegotiating
it will be difficult, not least in light of the discontent with the treaty
on the part of many non-nuclear-weapons states. If ad hoc
approaches are taken, there is the issue of drawing the line: Who
is to decide where the line on such technologies is drawn, who is
included and who excluded, and on what criteria?9 The problem is
compounded by the possibility of future energy crises and environ-
mental concerns about global warming, which may indicate the
revival of nuclear power. Increased interest in nuclear power would
make controlling technologies more controversial politically.
Iran’s ambiguous quest for nuclear technology thus unfolds at a
time and place of great sensitivity. By seeking this technology—
while claiming formal adherence to the treaty, using diplomacy,
and adopting the language of a victimized non-nuclear-weapons-
state simply seeking its due under Article IV of the treaty—Iran
tests both the treaty and its supporters.
A policy to deal with Iran’s specific motives and circumstances
should not entail rewarding proliferation or derogating from the
provisions of the NPT. However, devising an effective policy
requires understanding Iran’s ambitions and perspectives. Iran’s
achievement of a nuclear capability would increase its confidence
and reinforce its tendency to block Western initiatives and seek a
more prominent regional role.
The purpose of this study is first to assess the motivations driv-
ing Iran toward a nuclear capability all but indistinguishable from
nuclear weapons. I discuss reasons why this should be of concern
for the international community and assess Iran’s tactics in the cur-
rent negotiations and its intentions, as well as analyze international
responses. I am principally concerned with what Iran is doing,
what its motivations are, how it is going about it, and what it hopes
to achieve. Necessarily the study is based on analysis and inference
involving a discussion, for example, of negotiating style and tactics.
I assume this issue will not be neatly solved in the near future and
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Introduction | 7

that a good understanding of motivations, arguments, and tactics
will continue to be essential, whatever new developments may
occur in the next few years.

Setting the Stage: The Background to Iran’s Nuclear Program

After explicitly targeting and criticizing the Shah’s nuclear program
as an example of the monarchy’s corrupt taste for megaprojects, the
Islamic Republic of Iran rediscovered an interest in nuclear power in
the midst of the Iran–Iraq war (1986). Despite the fact that the unfin-
ished Bushire reactor had been abandoned by German technicians
and bombed by Iraq, Tehran sought to revive the project. The argu-
ment for this at that time was based on the costs already sunk in the
project. When Germany, at the behest of the United States, declined
to resume construction and finish the project, Iran turned to the
Soviet Union. The untested idea was to try to marry Soviet technol-
ogy and nuclear core to the existing German-built foundations.
Reliance on Soviet and later Chinese assistance became features of
Iran’s nuclear program in the 1990s. By this time Iran had articulated
a new and ambitious long-term program for nuclear power plants,
with the stated rationale of energy self-sufficiency. It is now known
that already in the 1980s Iran had been in contact with the AQ Khan
network to give its sputtering program new impetus.
With declining oil income (in real terms after 1986), a rapidly
increasing population, and extensive war and reconstruction
expenses, Iran could not give the program the highest priority. The
program hitherto had therefore been characterized by persistence
and incrementalism. This changed after 1999, however, when the
nuclear effort was intensified.10 The accelerated drive came at a
time when Iraq was tightly contained, when reformists were in
office in Iran, and when the Clinton administration was making
overtures for normalization to Tehran.
Iran’s view of nuclear weapons was influenced by the lessons of
its war with Iraq, especially with regard to self-reliance and pre-
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8 | Introduction

paredness (hedging against surprise). Close observation of the
international reaction to the North Korean case in 1994 yielded yet
another lesson. Nothing in the Security Council response to that
crisis suggested inordinate risks associated with developing nuclear
weapons or any inevitability about a united front in that chamber.
Throughout the 1990s Iran’s insistence that U.S. accusations about
its nuclear program stemmed from a bilateral feud with Tehran
appeared plausible to some. U.S. efforts to halt the transfer of tech-
nology to Iran’s allegedly civil nuclear program met with only
mixed receptivity in Moscow and Beijing.
This brief synopsis of Iran’s nuclear program suggests the follow-
ing. Reactivated in the midst of war under adverse conditions, Iran’s
nuclear program was initially influenced by security issues. But
Saddam Hussein’s nuclear threat had essentially been eliminated or
contained by 1991, well before Iran’s program took off. The con-
tinuing impulse for that program stemmed from a prudent though
vague desire to hedge against an uncertain future. In the 1990s, as
the Islamic revolution lost its luster for its supporters at home and
abroad, the nuclear option appeared to offer a way out, a point
around which to rally nationalist opinion and to legitimate the
regime. In a sense the nuclear program was in search of a ration-
ale, which evolved from insurance against Iraq to energy indepen-
dence and from regional status to deterrence against the United
States. And along the way it picked up domestic interest groups.
Iran accelerated its nuclear program in 1999. The undeclared
drive for enrichment or a nuclear capability or option within the
treaty was upset by the revelations of mid-2002, which showed that
Iran had built undeclared fuel cycle facilities, whose economic
rationale was debatable and whose value for producing nuclear
weapons was great.
Iran had sought to create a fait accompli on the Korean model but
was derailed by the public revelations of its undeclared activities in
mid-2002. Put on the defensive by these revelations (occurring
when the United States was planning the Iraq war), Tehran sought
an accommodation with the EU-3, which included constraints on its
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Introduction | 9

activities. It took two years before Tehran regained its confidence to
break free from the constraints it had accepted in September 2003.
Iran thus moved away from reassuring the international community
on its program to a defiant assertion of its rights. In the two years
between September 2003 and August 2005, Iran’s negotiations with
the EU-3 (and through them the international community and
IAEA) proved counterproductive. Intended to find a balance
between the necessity of reassuring others of the peaceful nature of
its activities and its ambitions for a nuclear program, the negotia-
tions succeeded only in exacerbating suspicions. Iran acted as if it
were a victim rather than a state found in flagrant dereliction of its
commitments. The additional distrust created by the negotiations
themselves were a result of Iran’s negotiating style and tactics.
The sketch that follows underscores the negotiations’ principal
stages and results (see chronology for a complete list of key events
in the timeline). Revelations of Iran’s activities saw the IAEA ener-
gized and its Director-General Mohammad Al Baradei visit Tehran
in February 2003. Inspections followed. In September the IAEA’s
Board of Governors called on Iran to ensure full compliance with
the safeguard agreement by taking all necessary acts by the end of
October 2003. Iran was told to suspend all further enrichment
activities and to ratify and implement the Additional Protocol (AP)
for enhanced inspections. Under pressure and the threat of refer-
ral (and possible U.S. military action), Iran accepted an agreement
with the EU-3 in Tehran, suspending enrichment (for the duration
of negotiations) and signing and implementing the AP. In return,
Tehran sought to have its relations with the agency normalized and
its nuclear file speedily dropped. Iran cooperated with the agency
but remained adamant about resuming enrichment and maintain-
ing opacity about some aspects of its program. When Iran sought
to define its rights to include enrichment-related activities deemed
suspended by its negotiating partners, the Tehran agreement of
September 2003 was followed by the Paris agreement of Novem-
ber 2004, which closed any loopholes about enrichment-related
activities. In June 2005 Iran served notice of its intention to resume
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10 | Introduction

conversion activities. It rejected a broad incentives package pro-
posed by the European states and resumed its activities in August
of that year. Moreover, the new Iranian government adopted a more
belligerent tone. Shrugging off progressively stronger resolutions
from the IAEA threatening referral to the UNSC in the autumn, Iran
resumed enrichment research in January 2006. The agency decided
to refer Iran’s case to the Security Council in March 2006, where it
is now being considered.

Iranian Challenge

An Iranian nuclear capability is primarily an issue about Iran and
the Middle East regional order, notwithstanding the enormous
impact on the NPT regime. The nature of the regime in Iran and its
behavior animate special concern about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. A
nuclear capability would give Iran the confidence to obstruct and
challenge U.S. power and Western influence in the Middle East. A
nuclear capability would also be an immediate guarantee against
forcible regime change. This study argues that it is not Iran’s acqui-
sition of sensitive technologies per se that is of special concern,
but the nature of the regime in Tehran and its behavior and orien-
tation that give the threat a world-historical dimension. A nuclear
Iran would be a dangerous, destabilizing competitor in a sensitive
geopolitical area. The conjunction of a nuclear-capable Iran and a
weakened, disintegrating Iraq under Iranian influence would com-
pound the problem, dramatically destabilizing the region.
Therefore, the focus on Iran’s nuclear capabilities should not
obscure the primary concern: Iran’s regional policies. A different
Iran, or an Iran pursuing more moderate goals in the region, would
not be perceived the same way as Tehran is today. An Iran less hos-
tile to the West, less aggressive toward Israel, and less bent on cre-
ating a different regional order would certainly be less threatening.
A different regime, a secular democratic one, would be the object of
less concern, even if it were pursuing the same nuclear capabilities.11
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Introduction | 11

This means that the discussion regarding Iran’s nuclear ambi-
tions is at times a discussion of the nature of the Iranian regime and
raises the question of whether that regime is likely either to be
replaced soon or to change its behavior to an appreciable extent.
Iran has not yet had to choose between regime maintenance and its
regional policies. Tehran sees the extension of its influence as an
integral part of the regime’s legitimacy, but in extremis it has no hes-
itancy in tempering its ambitions (as in 2002–2003).
Iran uses discontent with the NPT and anti-Americanism in the
Middle East to pursue its goals, thus generalizing its case and
strengthening its diplomacy. Iran is without a significant strategic
partner or dependable ally. It is thus obliged to pursue its goals
alone, which suits its particular brand of assertive defiance and
opportunism. Tehran can rely on Russian, Chinese, and Indian
interest and indulgence in respect to some of its ambitions (though
not necessarily to its preferred spoiler role). Iran’s size and weight
make it a more formidable rival than other states identified as pro-
liferants. Blocking Iran’s access to technology, mobilizing diplo-
matic coalitions for sanctions, and countering its regional initiatives
are thus much harder than in the case of countries like North Korea
(or Libya). And as a major oil and gas supplier located at the cross-
roads of the Caspian and the Persian Gulf and the Arab and Asian
subcontinent, Iran is not without potential assets.
Iran has invested in its nuclear infrastructure for nearly two
decades. The program has been marked by persistence and incre-
mentalism, by determination rather than urgency. As the absence of
a crash program would suggest, the motives for investing in a
nuclear option stem more from political than security imperatives.
While the security rationale has been shifting, the political motive
has remained unvarying and fixed. The impulse behind the pro-
gram has been persistent, even if its aims have been unclear.12
Iran seeks technology related to nuclear weapons and, assuming
the absence of a large-scale clandestine program, still has not made
a definitive or irreversible decision to acquire nuclear weapons as
opposed to an option. This is important in practical terms because
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12 | Introduction

it signals that Iran seeks to stay within the treaty—as much for the
technical cooperation it needs as for the vindication of its image as
a respectable (as opposed to rogue) state. There is thus still time for
an effective international reaction before Iran reaches the techno-
logical point of no return of self-sufficiency in its nuclear program.
Iran’s quest for a nuclear capability (for “nonweaponized deter-
rence”) can be understood by reference to certain key goals: a deter-
rent (regime maintenance), an instrument for regional influence, a
nationalist card for regime legitimation, and a bargaining card.
The formative experience of the IRI with international politics
was in the immediate aftermath of the establishment of the Islamic
Republic when it was challenged by Iraq. The lessons it learned
from that hard and bitter war, together with what have become
enshrined as semisacrosanct “principles of the revolution,” inform
its nuclear policy as well as its public discourse: independence,
equality, and nondiscrimination. The nuclear question is particu-
larly notable for raising all of these issues in terms of access to tech-
nology, dependence on foreign suppliers, equality of treatment,
and so on. Above all, the nuclear issue is one of symbolism, reflect-
ing Iran’s coming of age as an important power. The Iranians see
it—and the issue of trust and confidence—as a two-way street of
reciprocity and respect.
Iran’s quest for a nuclear capability by stealth is not surprising
in a region where transparency is not a part of the culture and
where opacity and dissimulation are the norm. Disentangling fact
from claim and argument from artifice is not easy. Grappling with
Iran’s aims needs a reconstruction of motives, experiences, and
worldviews, while intentions are harder to assess. It is easier to
argue that Iran seeks a capability than to assert that this decision
has been made definitively, no matter what the cost. It is also diffi-
cult to be sure whether the nuclear program has become self-
sufficient, whether there exist significant clandestine facilities, and
what time frame this implies. Finally it is difficult to be certain
whether the decision has been made to acquire nuclear weapons or
an “option” short of that. The argument presented here is that while
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Introduction | 13

Iran has been persistent, it has also been “playing it by ear,” with
no irreversible decisions taken and these sensitive to the costs asso-
ciated with proceeding. In addition there is no strategic urgency
arguing for a nuclear weapon as opposed to an option. However,
the program is pursued according to what the traffic will bear. Iran’s
leaders have antennas very sensitive to the relative balance of power
and what they can get away with. They see the regional balance of
power since 2004 and the diplomatic balance of power since 2005
as having increasingly turned in their favor. Iran’s relations with the
IAEA and negotiations with the EU-3 since the 2003–2005 period
can be characterized as defensive and thereafter as self-confident
and assertive.
As Iran pursues its drive for a nuclear capability, the motives
impelling it to do so and the implications of its achievement become
more important; these questions will be addressed throughout this
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The View from Tehran

evolutionary states see the world as a hostile place and tend to
R act to make it so. A fundamental ambivalence characterizes
such states. They alternately feel impelled to spread their message
but feel surrounded by hostile states; they veer between overcon-
fidence and insecurity. In Iran’s case, the default position in its for-
eign policy has been one of obstructionism, due as much to its
worldview as to its response to the strategic environment. Normal-
ization and routinization of foreign policy necessitates jettisoning
revolutionary claims, which are believed to be an intrinsic part of
the regime’s legitimacy. The revolutionary reflex competes with a
detached pragmatism and often subverts it. Iran’s sense of frustra-
tion at being blocked regionally stems as much from its sense of
“status discrepancy” as from objective conditions.1
Since September 2001, Iran has exchanged a relatively tolerable
strategic environment, in which Saddam’s Iraq was contained and
Taliban Afghanistan was marginalized, for a new context in which
Iran is literally encircled by its old nemesis, the United States. The
United States figures centrally in Iran’s threat perceptions because
Iranians believe that the United States has never reconciled itself to
revolutionary Islamic Iran and misses no opportunity to deny it its
rightful role and to weaken it.2

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The View from Tehran | 15

Iran lies at a natural crossroads between the Caspian and the
Gulf and the Arab world and the subcontinent, but it has been
unable to translate its geopolitical assets into political advantage. As
a non-Arab Shiite state, Iran lacks a natural constituency, either
regionally or in the wider Muslim world (Shiites are a minority in
Islam). Iran also lacks dependable friends or strategic partners, as
the relationship with Syria underlines. Nor is Iran in any significant
multilateral regional institution such as the Gulf Cooperation
Council (GCC). Iran made a Faustian bargain with the Soviet
Union (and its successor, Russia) that has held: In exchange for
Iranian restraint and stabilization of the Caucasus and Central Asia,
Tehran would gain access to Russian technology and arms. Moscow
considers Iran an important state and strategic partner, and coop-
eration in Tajikistan, Afghanistan under the Taliban, and Nagorny
Karabakh is evidence of this. Both states seek to keep the United
States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) from
establishing a presence in the broader region and are committed to
reversing it. This tacit opposition to the West gives Iran a certain
weight in Russian calculations, but it does not extend to encourag-
ing Tehran in the direction of nuclear weapons, nor does it out-
weigh Russia’s continuing imperative of maintaining good working
relations with the United States.
Iran’s regional relations are otherwise unremarkable, posing no
threat to Iran even if they are not characterized by uniform warmth
and close cooperation. With Turkey and Pakistan, Iran retains nor-
mal relations without any acute bilateral sources of dispute. Iran
sees India and China as “rising Asia” and part of its strategy of
looking east as a counterweight to offset dependence on Europe
and the United States. Iran’s relations with these states are growing,
especially in the area of energy, and they are set to become more
important strategically in the next decade. Like Russia, however,
neither state wishes to see Iran acquire nuclear weapons or to have
to choose between relations with Tehran and Washington.3 How far
Iran can play on resentment of U.S. policies to encourage a new
multipolarity remains to be seen.4
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16 | The View from Tehran

With the Arab states of the peninsula, Iran has formally mended
fences, but relations are not infused with trust.5 If anything, Iran’s
neighbors feel threatened, not the reverse. Further afield, Iran has
yet to normalize diplomatic relations with Egypt, which remains
suspicious of Iran’s ambitions. Iran depicts Israel as illegitimate,
venomously directing its revolutionary rhetoric at it. But absent
Iranian hostility, Israel poses no threat to the Islamic Republic.
The world viewed from Tehran then is mixed, with threat and
opportunity in equal measure. The principal threat arises from the
possibility that the U.S. presence may become permanent, which
would translate into an environment that leaves Iran beleaguered,
without friends or influence. This scenario will hinge on the out-
come of the current struggle in Iraq. An alternative scenario would
arise from a U.S. withdrawal with its reputation compromised and
inclination to pursue forward defense reduced. But with this benign
scenario from Tehran’s perspective would come problems—the risk
of Iraq’s disintegration, civil war, and competitive intervention by
regional states. The opportunity to benefit from a U.S. retreat would
be not without risks.
Iran’s regional ambitions are clear enough. Iran seeks to become
the indispensable power, without which no regional policy can be
implemented.6 It seeks to do so from a position of strength and by
exploiting its leverage in the region.7 Therefore, the reverse side of
U.S. encirclement in the region is U.S. entanglement, which pro-
vides Iran with opportunities. As former defense minister Ali
Shamkhani observed: “Wherever they [that is, Americans] are, we
are also ... and wherever they can hit us we can hit them harder.”8
To conclude, Iran’s strategic environment does not create the
insecurity driving Iran’s nuclear program, which is driven more by
frustration over status and the ambition to be taken more seriously
and to play a larger, more global role. The one exception—U.S.
threats of regime change since 2002—does not account for the
start of the nuclear program or its persistence, although it may be
the reason why Iran continues to insist on it in the face of interna-
tional opposition.
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The View from Tehran | 17

Iran’s Revolutionary Values and Non-proliferation

Some have suggested that Iran may be the key proliferation tipping
point in the unraveling of the NPT.9 Iran takes the current pro-
longed crisis about the scope and limits of its nuclear program seri-
ously. The Iranian leadership has characterized it as the “most
difficult case in the entire history of the country,” comparable to the
acceptance of the United Nations (UN) resolution ending the war
with Iraq (SC 598) and even to the oil nationalization crisis of
1953.10 Iranian officials admit that the crisis around their nuclear
program came with revelations of secret activities in August 2002.
Since 2003 the level of military alert has been raised.11 A senior offi-
cial, justifying the negotiations with the EU-3, has observed that
“being a revolutionary does not mean that we must discard every-
thing and put ourselves on the road to confrontation with the rest
of the world....” Rather, Iran through interaction could maintain its
national security and protect its interests and nuclear technology.12
Iranian officials deny any resemblance of Iran’s situation to that of
Libya or North Korea. They see Libya as a case of total capitulation,
and North Korea as an inappropriate model as well because it
claims to have nuclear weapons, which Iran does not. Nor do they
see Iraq as a model, because its approach “was to drip feed infor-
mation, and show resistance and reluctance, in order to be able to
maintain some facilities and activities ... and in the end (Saddam’s
regime) was toppled.”13 Conversely, Iran professes a willingness to
be transparent to disprove claims that it seeks nuclear weapons.
Since 2002 when the nuclear issue became widely publicized
internationally, the justification for the program has been given
intense domestic coverage. Iranian leaders have sold the nuclear
program as an inalienable right under the NPT, as a means of diver-
sifying energy sources and as cutting-edge technology necessary to
enter the ranks of scientifically advanced states. Iranian officials
have depicted the issue in terms of rights on the one hand and
denial of technology to keep Iran backward on the other. In play-
ing the nationalist card Tehran has unleashed forces more intran-
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18 | The View from Tehran

sigent than its negotiators. Iranian officials have had to justify Iran’s
policies, such as agreements to negotiate with the EU-3 in 2003 and
2004, as necessary prudent measures to avoid giving Iran’s enemies
pretexts to attack it: “Iran (thus) has its own model and it means
that we want to develop nuclear technology in Iran and at the same
time gain the trust of the world.”14 Iran’s approach therefore has
been to reassure the international community by being sensitive to
its concerns. For example, it signed the Additional Protocol in
October 2003 under international pressure, stating: “gradually we
reached the conclusion that each and every industrial country that
had trade ties with Iran wanted us to sign the Additional Proto-
Iran’s willingness to bow to the cumulative pressure from coun-
tries with which it desired to maintain relations differentiates it
from other proliferators: It does not see itself, or want others to see
it, as an international pariah. There is, nonetheless, a less accom-
modating side to Iran’s interaction with other countries; the nuclear
question symbolizes the values and aims of the revolution, above
all the defiant assertion of independence: “Iran has made a Revo-
lution in order not to be the obedient servant of any country and
to act on the basis of its own national interests. Even if this has
some costs ... we are prepared to pay these costs.”16
These values and the worldview they reflect, together with the
lessons learned over the past quarter century, are strong condition-
ers of Iran’s nuclear program as well as its diplomacy. They merit
extended examination precisely because they are intrinsic features
of the discourse and politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran and as
such will influence Iran’s strategy and any possible negotiated
The long and costly war with Iraq early in the life of the IRI has
been the principal conditioner of Iran’s approach to national secu-
rity ever since.17 The war in retrospect is seen as confirming the
hostility of the outside world toward the Islamic revolution. The
revolution was forged through martyrdom and unity during the
war, so it is seen as a golden period marking an epic that should
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The View from Tehran | 19

inform all subsequent policies. The war with Iraq served as both
warning and lesson.18 Surprised by Iraq’s attack, Iranians resolved
never to be caught unprepared again. A clear and overriding lesson
surely was that reliance on conventional forces for deterrence was
less effective than reliance on nuclear weapons. With nuclear
weapons, even the most dedicated or better armed foe would surely
be deterred, whereas conventional deterrence was more liable to
fail. These lessons have now been incorporated into what might be
called the revolution’s values. (Official Iranian statements, how-
ever, concentrate on the inadmissibility of the use of nuclear
In summary, these values can be expressed as independence,
equality, and respect. They reflect an extreme sensitivity to any
appearance of dependence, dictation, or domination by others as
well as a desire to be taken seriously, treated without discrimina-
tion, and accorded the status that Iran’s importance in the world
merits. Although tempered over the past quarter century, Iranian
leaders still believe that Iran constitutes a role model for others in
creating an Islamic revolution and siding with the oppressed
against global arrogance and an unjust international order.19 Iran’s
quest for international status is a major element in its outlook, a
nationalist glue that unites hard-liners and reformists, secularists
and religious conservatives.20
The lessons of Iran’s war with Iraq and the values of the revolu-
tion reinforce each other. They militate toward self-sufficiency in
arms production; hedge against technological surprises (such as
Saddam’s use of surface to surface missiles, which caught Iran with-
out equivalent weapons); and do not rely on the international rules
or community for any favors during crises.21 Iran believes that it is
now—or should be—a major regional power and that no policy in
the region should be implemented without taking into account its
This defiance plays out in the issue of Iran’s nuclear energy pro-
gram and the U.S. opposition to it. International efforts to con-
strain Iran’s nuclear activities are seen as technology denial and
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20 | The View from Tehran

dictation intended to keep Iran backward and subordinate.23 It
also plays into the issue of discrimination or “nuclear apartheid”
voiced by President Ahmadinejad at the United Nations in Septem-
ber 2005.
This outlook and its war with Iraq led toward its current empha-
sis on missiles and the cultivation of options to avoid surprises.
Both Iran and Iraq attributed more importance to the role of mis-
siles (and chemical weapons) in the outcome of the war than was
warranted.24 As a result both countries, wary of another round in
the future, continued an arms race and emphasized these programs.
As the unloved victim of chemical weapons, Iran felt even more
aggrieved and justified to seek insurance against a future attack.25
The experience with Iraq consequently encouraged Iran to seek
self-sufficiency through the establishment of a domestic missile
industry (in part to substitute for aircraft) and to maintain a certain
ambiguity about its chemical, biological, and nuclear programs.26
Iran’s thinking was influenced by other developments as well.
The rapid U.S. victory in Iraq in 1991 contrasted with Iran’s eight-
year inconclusive war, underscoring the vast military disparity in
conventional power between Tehran and Washington. Indian Gen-
eral Krishnaswamy Sundarji’s comment—that if you wish to con-
front the United States, it would be wise to have nuclear
weapons—seemed especially relevant to the Iranians. Iraq’s
enforced disarmament through the UN Special Commission
(UNSCOM) after Desert Storm underlined how advanced Iraq’s
nuclear program had been (between six months and two years
from realization) and how it had been underestimated. Later, North
Korea’s Agreed Framework with the United States in 1994 sug-
gested that nuclear weapons might serve as a bargaining chip for
technology and need not result in automatic sanctions or attack.
Nuclear tests in India and Pakistan in 1998 passed relatively
unscathed by international sanctions and in a short time became
accepted as each became U.S. partners or allies. Finally, the U.S.
attack on Iraq in April 2003 justified by reference to suspected
weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs contrasted with
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The View from Tehran | 21

the restraint and caution shown toward North Korea, a self-
confessed nuclear power, which appeared to underscore Sundarji’s
comment about the deterrent effects of nuclear weapons.27
Iran therefore has reasons, based on its own direct experience,
its worldview, and its reading of events, to consider whether
nuclear weapons would add to its security. Additional incentives
came with the change in U.S. policy from dual containment in the
1990s to regime change after 2001.
Iran’s initial reaction to 9/11 mixed sympathy with wariness. The
war in Afghanistan was indicative of this: Hostility toward the Taliban
was matched by a reluctance to see the United States entrenched
nearby. Iranian leaders saw the War on Terrorism as a pretext for a
foreign regional presence.28 Already in mid-2002 a top Iranian offi-
cial correctly predicted a U.S. war against Iraq, stating that “even if
Saddam lets the weapon inspectors in, the U.S. will attack.”29 In
both cases Iran formally opposed the acts but remained neutral. The
war with Iraq was preceded by a further deterioration in relations
between Washington and Tehran. The Bush administration’s identi-
fication of Iran as a terrorist state and with an “axis of evil” (January
2002) and the announcement of a future strategy of preemption and
regime change where necessary increased Iran’s perceptions of threat.
This environment may have reinforced Iran’s motivation to pursue its
nuclear program, even after Saddam’s demise.
After the 2003 war with Iraq, the United States became both a
regional state (a neighbor on two sides of Iran) and a revolutionary
state, supporting democratic change in the region rather than the
status quo at all costs. Iran saw this regional presence as a threat to
its interests.30 Initially Iran was concerned that the new U.S. pol-
icy would target it next. Iran’s response has been to show that it is
not vulnerable to regime change and to demonstrate a linkage
between Tehran’s influence—for good or ill—in Iraq and
Afghanistan and U.S. policy toward Tehran, especially on the
nuclear issue.
Iranian officials were surprised by the U.S. administration’s new
policies. They understood the discussion about a new draft nuclear
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22 | The View from Tehran

posture review as an implicit threat to make nuclear weapons more
usable against potential (nonnuclear) adversaries. Washington’s
interest in smaller nuclear weapons (mini-nukes) made the threat
of nuclear use against alleged proliferators more worrisome to
Tehran.31 The appropriation of U.S. funds to support the Iranian
opposition in mid-2003, together with the initial stunning military
success of the United States in Iraq, gave Iran’s leadership pause:
Regime change had become a real threat. Iranian reformists might
have been emboldened by the U.S. proximity and encouragement
to call on external assistance. Always sensitive to power realities,
Tehran’s response was to seek an accommodation. Already in mid-
2002, Hashemi Rafsanjani, Chairman of the Expediency Discern-
ment Council of Iran, had offered Iran’s cooperation with the
United States, as it had in Afghanistan, if it were treated as an
equal.32 By mid-2003, Washington terminated discussions between
Iran and the United States in Geneva upon learning of Tehran’s
provision of sanctuary to Al Qaeda elements involved with terror-
ism in Saudi Arabia. However, as the United States became more
entangled in Iraq in 2003, with the prospect of a rapid political vic-
tory fading, Iran regained its confidence. Iranian leaders now talked
of the failure of regime change and the fact that the United States
was now bogged down in Iraq as well as Afghanistan.33
When the possibility of a U.S. military strike against Iranian
nuclear facilities became topical in 2004, Iranian officials
responded by dismissing the reports as part of a psychological cam-
paign, pointing out the political repercussions, given lack of sup-
port for this in Europe or elsewhere.34 In addition Iran has justified
building its uranium enrichment plant at Natanz underground by
reference to the threat of a U.S. attack.35 Iran also threatened retal-
iation and in numerous statements suggested that an attack on Iran
would not be considered limited or elicit a limited response, that
such a response would target U.S. forces in the region, that a
response would not be limited to the region, that Iran would itself
consider preemption, and that the United States could ill afford the
subsequent regional instability.36
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The View from Tehran | 23

To prevent a possible resort to force by the United States, Iran
also pursued a complicated regional diplomacy. Although Iran’s
interests in Afghanistan and Iraq are largely similar to those of the
United States, the U.S. military presence, especially over the long
term, is considered a threat. Moreover, that the United States is
now militarily stretched by its commitments in these two countries
gives Iran breathing space to delay or blunt what might otherwise
be a credible military threat on its nuclear facilities.37
Iran’s response to the enhanced U.S. military presence in the
region has been to treat the United States as a potential hostage, to
keep it entangled, and thus to prevent a speedy success and with-
drawal that would enable the United States to concentrate on the
next issue: nuclear Iran. This response has entailed playing a spoil-
ing role to assure at least a delay in the stabilization of Iraq (and the
cultivation of local actors as possible conduits for policy, which
has parallels in Afghanistan as well).
The implicit linkage between Iran’s regional policy and Tehran’s
relations with the United States is clear enough. As the United
States has looked to establish a base structure around Iran (includ-
ing Central Asia), Iran has stepped up its spoiling strategy.38 The
question of whether the United States is willing to compromise on
Iran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for assistance regionally has
not been definitively answered—in part because the evolution of
events in Iraq remains unpredictable and in part because the impli-
cations of nuclear Iran are so serious as to make such a tacit
exchange a losing proposition in the longer term.39
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Nuclear Energy Rationale, Domestic
Politics, and Decision Making

Energy Diversification and Self-Sufficiency

Iran argues that it is developing nuclear energy to generate electric-
ity and to master the fuel cycle to become a supplier of nuclear fuel
in the future. Its arguments in support of this claim are both eco-
nomic and strategic. Iran is a major producer of oil and soon gas,
and it justifies its interest in nuclear technology by reference to the
need to diversify its energy sources and keep abreast of a technol-
ogy that it identifies as modern and synonymous with being an
advanced scientific state. Initially cancelled by the Islamic Republic,
the Iranian nuclear program was restarted in the mid-1980s. The
rationale was that the partially built Bushire reactor represented a
“sunk cost” that should be recouped. The argument for nuclear
energy was then strengthened by the prudent need for diversifying
energy sources. As Mohsen Rezai, Secretary of the Expediency Dis-
cernment Council, put it, “The important issue is that Iran’s energy
basket must be a mixture of all kinds of energy. Abandoning the
nuclear program will harm our national interests.”1
The argument is further reinforced by the fact that Iran’s rapid
population growth and domestic oil consumption are reducing
Iran’s oil export revenues.2 Iran currently envisages the production
of 7,000 megawatts of electricity from nuclear energy and initial
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Nuclear Energy Rationale, Domestic Politics, and Decision Making | 25

construction of ten nuclear reactors.3 This program implies “self
sufficiency in all aspects of using the peaceful use of nuclear energy”
from extraction through enrichment.4
Therein lies the problem: By insisting on acquiring the full fuel
cycle, including facilities for uranium enrichment and plutonium
reprocessing, Iran would acquire the ability to fabricate the mate-
rials necessary for nuclear weapons with little difficulty. Much of
the world questions Iranian arguments on the need for self-
sufficiency in all aspects of the fuel cycle and on the energy justifi-
cation for the scale of the program. That Iran emphasizes
enrichment (Natanz) and a heavy water plant (Arak) at this early
phase in its program when not a single reactor is yet functioning
rings alarm bells. Furthermore most countries with reactors do not
go into enrichment. Indeed, most have not sought such a capabil-
ity because it is not economical. The Iranians insist, however, that
the nuclear issue is not just a question of energy but of science and
technology and self-sufficiency, and as such an issue of great prac-
tical and symbolic significance.5 Iran is thus determined to avoid
dependency on others for its future fuel supply and wants to be
among the top fuel producers and suppliers within the next fifteen
years. In the meantime, Iran will buy fuel. According to one expert,
it will take Iran ten years before it will be able to generate good
quality reactor fuel domestically.6 Iranians are proud of their efforts,
claiming that “all parts of the centrifuges used in the Natanz com-
plex are manufactured by Iranian experts” and that it has broken
into the “monopolized nuclear fuel market.”7
Iranian leaders are unapologetic about their goals: “We want to
have enrichment and all other parts of nuclear technology to use
this valuable science for the good of our people and the country.
And we will do this at any cost.”8 Because there are doubts whether
these constitute Iran’s real goals, Iran is being tested by the inter-
national response.
The Iranian arguments for energy diversification are more plau-
sible than those justifying the program on grounds of self-
sufficiency. There are several reasons why the self-sufficiency
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26 | Nuclear Energy Rationale, Domestic Politics, and Decsion Making

argument is problematic. First, even states like Sweden, which has
ten reactors, do not feel the need for enrichment facilities and
instead buy their fuel on the open market, which is less expensive.
Second, even with possessing the full fuel cycle, Iran will remain
dependent on imports of uranium because it lacks adequate indige-
nous supplies. Third, with reference to increased domestic energy
consumption, the problem for Iran is the growing demand for gaso-
line, not electricity. Iran’s domestic consumption of heavily subsi-
dized and thus wasted gasoline is costly and growing in line with the
population. Therefore, nuclear power generation plants, which only
produce electricity, will not begin to address this demand. (Iran’s
vast indigenous gas reserves are discounted from the equation.)

Nuclear Power and Nuclear Status

Iran’s depiction of its accession to the ranks of states mastering
nuclear technology as enormously significant has two functions:
First, it legitimates the regime domestically and, second, gives Iran
greater weight internationally. The regime’s depiction of Iran’s
achievement is vague at best and deliberately distorted at worst.
Science, technology, and power are equated, and peaceful nuclear
power is said to give Iran entry into an “exclusive club.”9
The nuclear issue has thus, according to some, become a rally-
ing point around which all can agree, like the “sacred defense” of
the country against Iraq. As reported in the Iranian press,

Atomic energy has become the glue that has reinforced the
solidarity of the nation.... Just imagine, if we could link the
glories of the sacred defense with the people’s national soli-
darity in the area of the inalienable right we are entitled to
regarding atomic energy, what immense power would be
forged and what a great epic it would create, so majestic and
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Nuclear Energy Rationale, Domestic Politics, and Decision Making | 27

Ambiguities about the nature of Iran’s programs and ambitions
are underscored by these claims. Iran, it is said, “has advanced
nuclear technology” including enrichment and “this is very impor-
tant in the world.” The West’s stance against Iran “indicates that
Iran has access to this very exclusive and sensitive technology.”
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, in an address to prayer leaders,
stated that “the bullies of this world know full well that we do not
have nuclear weapons. However what has made them anxious is the
Iranian nation’s access to nuclear technology.”11 Iranian pride in its
“amazing” progress in technology is palpable and attributed to the
regime. Iranian scientists, one leader insisted, have now made the
world admit that Iran is a scientific and technological power.12 The
United States and Europe, in this mind-set, are united in pressuring
Iran to abandon enrichment “because enrichment is a way forward
to scientific advancement and if a country is able to succeed in
doing so, the efforts of the world of arrogance will lose their effect.”13
Iranian officials suggest that nuclear technology has enhanced
Iran’s power, “guarantee[ing] the Islamic republic’s presence in the
international scene” and giving the Europeans pause as they “real-
ize they could not embark on force when talking to Iran.”14 In
short, Iranian leaders attribute a great deal more significance to the
attainment of an enrichment capability than potential energy self-

Domestic Politics

While the nuclear issue is depicted by the Iranian leadership as a
burning national issue, the reality is different. Foreign policy,
including the nuclear question, is generally far from the mind of the
ordinary Iranian, who is more concerned about employment, infla-
tion, and prospects for self-betterment. While most Iranians favor
an Iran that is independent and has status, it is questionable
whether they would seek the nuclear fuel cycle at the cost of con-
frontation with the international community, referral to the UN
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28 | Nuclear Energy Rationale, Domestic Politics, and Decsion Making

Security Council, and sanctions. When the new government
adopted a more confrontational course in August 2005, Iranian
stock and real estate markets plummeted, and questions began to
be raised domestically about its course.15
How has domestic politics influenced Iran’s nuclear program? Is
there, as the regime insists, national unity on Iran’s right to enrich-
ment, which precludes any policy adjustment?

Domestic Nuclear Debate

Iran’s principal motive for developing nuclear technology appears
to be domestic legitimation of the regime.16 By tapping into and
exploiting nationalist sentiment, the regime hopes to reinforce
itself. It has certainly oversold the notion that possessing the full
fuel cycle reflects cutting-edge technology that no self-respecting
nation can afford to forgo. This national consensus, which has been
selectively invoked, has left the regime with less room for compro-
mise. Even so, a broad spectrum of views on the nuclear program
exists; flexibility is possible but requires determined leadership.
The nuclear issue is only partly about technology and status. As
mentioned earlier, it is more importantly a surrogate for a broader
debate about the country’s future—about what model Iran should
adopt and how it should interact with the wider world. The nuclear
issue is a metaphor for Iran’s quest for greater respect and a wider
regional and global role. The June 2005 presidential elections
reflected this broader debate.
Polls consistently show some 80 percent of the population sup-
porting Iran’s access to nuclear technology as a right that reflects
and contributes to Iran’s advanced scientific status. Iranian leaders
consequently invoke national demand in their international nego-
tiations.17 In reality, however, the nuclear debate in Iran is more
complicated. Although no one supports technology denial as such,
Iranians are not duped by the way the issue has been depicted. The
debate has been manipulated by the regime, which has failed to
open up the facts or issues to public scrutiny, framing the issue in
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Nuclear Energy Rationale, Domestic Politics, and Decision Making | 29

terms of denial, rights, equality, and respect.18 When the debate is
framed differently, the results change. Iranians do not want to pay
a high price for the program given their domestic economic needs.
They wish to avoid confrontation and international isolation. The
extreme case was well put by one forty-five-year-old Iranian man
who preferred to remain anonymous: “If the result would be sim-
ilar to North Korea, where the people have a low standard of liv-
ing but are making the atomic bomb, then we don’t want that.”19
One difficulty in analyzing the Iranian debate is the fact that
Iran denies having intentions to acquire nuclear weapons, so offi-
cials do not discuss the strategic or other rationales for seeking the
capability to make or use them. Some conservatives openly argue
for leaving the NPT and seeking nuclear arms, whereas reformists
emphasize political deterrence (democracy and unity) and peace-
ful technology.20 This muted debate over the value of nuclear
weapons extends to the regime itself and is reflected in its uncer-
tainty about whether to continue to seek sensitive technology in the
face of U.S. and European Union (EU) objections, whatever the
price, or to settle for less controversial technology and improve
relations with the international community.21 In the broader con-
text of political flux and change in Iran, current differences on the
nuclear issue today are emblematic of different views on the way
Iran ought to develop and engage internationally. Self-sufficiency
versus interdependence, isolation versus engagement, ideology ver-
sus pragmatism—all are at play in Iran today.22
Differences do not fall strictly along factional lines but nearly so.
Certainly the nuclear issue figures into politics and factions seek to
use it politically. In the recent presidential elections, international
affairs were linked to domestic issues for the first time.23 Iranians
see that their priorities concerning jobs, investment, and normal-
ization internationally are connected to the struggle between their
government and the international community over the nuclear pro-
gram. The reformist candidate (Mostafa Moin) took the clear posi-
tion that if seeking enrichment poisoned relations with the
international community, Iran should forgo it. The conservative
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30 | Nuclear Energy Rationale, Domestic Politics, and Decsion Making

(former military) candidates (notably Ali Larijani and Mohsen
Rezai) were equally clear: They favored acquisition of the full fuel
cycle, depicting it as an issue of self-respect and scientific neces-
sity.24 More interesting was the position of another strong candidate
with a security background, Brigadier General Mohammad Bager
Qalibaf, who presented the issue as the need to balance between
Iran’s rights and the people’s desire to avoid hostilities and avoid
disturbing the peace, concluding that continued diplomacy offered
the best hope of developing technology and building confidence
with others.25 This theme was echoed by former president and can-
didate Hashemi Rafsanjani, widely admired as a wily politician
who might be able to actually deliver what more admirable candi-
dates (like Moin) could only promise. Hasan Rowhani, the chief
nuclear negotiator, encouraged Rafsanjani’s candidacy, arguing that
without Rafsanjani the conservatives would certainly win.26 Rafsan-
jani, reborn as a reformer, also promised more diplomacy on the
nuclear issue. More significantly, he invoked his special relationship
with Supreme Leader Khamenei for being able to achieve results.
Strikingly, it was not what he said on the nuclear issue but what he
said on Iran’s international relations that was significant. His dis-
course reflected the broad shift away from the conservative view of
the world: He embraced globalization enthusiastically and pledged
“positive and constructive interaction with the international arena:
renewing bonds and links with the rest of the world in order to
remedy the country’s vulnerabilities on the international stage and
speeding up the process of foreign investment in Iran.” 27 In
response, conservatives ran a “stop Rafsanjani” campaign, calling
into question his ties with Khamenei and casting aspersions on his
foreign support.28 In the election Rafsanjani lost to the hard-liners.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s populist victory was a triumph for what
he promised domestically: less corruption and more attention to
social equality. His indifference to international affairs and opinion
reflected his constituency, the rural and urban disadvantaged.
Outsiders find it difficult to distinguish among Iranians or to
identify significant differences among them on the nuclear issue.
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Nuclear Energy Rationale, Domestic Politics, and Decision Making | 31

And it is true that this issue has become a litmus test of national-
ism from which there are few dissenters. Most Iranians accept the
proposition that the nuclear issue reflects a general discrimination,
involving not just nuclear, but all advanced technology.29 Some see
the issue as symbolic of “the way that world powers view the nature
of Iran’s regime.”30 One reformer suggested that the nuclear issue
raised still more fundamental questions: What kind of state does
Iran seek to be? What sort of role does it aspire to play? And what
kind of relations does it seek with other states?31 It is in this con-
text, it could be argued, that Iran’s nuclear aspirations are bound to
be judged by other states.
Most Iranians support the quest for status, respect, and a
broader regional role. They see advanced technology, scientific
progress, and independence as linked and desirable. This nation-
alism, together with the resentment over discrimination, has been
fanned by the regime to expand the nuclear program. The nation-
alist consensus in turn has been used by negotiators to argue that
domestic constraints prevent Iran from forgoing sensitive technolo-
gies. While this is true up to a point, it is also very much self-
imposed and vague. The Iranian public has not judged whether a
nuclear weapons option is desirable on its own merits but only on
the proposition that Iran should not be denied technology to which
it is entitled.

Role of Conservatives in Nuclear Policy

In Iran, the political elite determines national security policies in
the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC). The default setting
in the council has been hard-line, with the reformists marginal-
ized whatever their standing in the Iranian parliament (Majles).
The reformists generally support the nuclear program but see
nuclear as one among several technologies, neither the Holy Grail
nor a panacea. They do not wish to see its pursuit lead to Iran’s
estrangement from the international community and hurt relations
with neighbors.32 In practice, however, nuclear policy issues have
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32 | Nuclear Energy Rationale, Domestic Politics, and Decsion Making

been decided between conservatives of two types: pragmatic (like
Rafsanjani and Rowhani) and ideological (like Ahmadinejad and
Larijani). It is worth noting the similarities and differences among
the various factions and groups.
Both types of conservatives appear to agree on the need for a
nuclear weapons option but differ on means or the price to be paid
to achieve this. In reality they seek different ends: The pragmatic
conservatives seek power to be able to cut a deal and normalize
relations, whereas the ideological conservatives shun a deal and want
power to be able to impose themselves on the region and beyond.
Both groups seek a larger regional role for Iran and see the United
States as an obstacle to that goal.33
The pragmatists who controlled negotiations during the
2003–2005 period were under constant pressure from the ideolog-
ical faction. They pursued a nuclear option within the NPT, were
open to compromise when necessary (Tehran and Paris agree-
ments), and sought to limit the fallout from Iran’s program. Sensi-
tive to international opinion and to the potential costs of a
disruption of relations, they were willing to suspend activities
(enrichment) and under pressure to accept constraints (the Addi-
tional Protocol) to keep up the appearance of reasonableness and
cooperation. While seeking to enhance power they were unwilling
to do so in a confrontational mode, leaving open the possibility of
a “grand bargain”—an across-the-board accommodation that
would see Iran’s interests and security guaranteed in exchange for
a normalization of relations and moderation of its behavior. For
economic and strategic reasons, this faction is more open to engage-
ment and sees globalization as an inescapable reality.
This policy stance has changed, however, since the ideologically
conservative faction took control of nuclear policy in August 2005.
The Ahmadinejad presidency represents a throwback to the early
days of the revolution, with its emphasis on first principles (social
justice, independence, and export of the revolution). A strong mil-
itary and security constituency (notably the militia Basij and the
Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, known as the IRGC or Pas-
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Nuclear Energy Rationale, Domestic Politics, and Decision Making | 33

daran) supports this administration as do some conservative clergy,
notably Ayatollah Taghi Mesbahi Yazdi of the Haggani seminary at
Qom.34 The world, in the view of this group, is a Hobbesian one of
unremitting struggle, where predatory powers lurk to dictate and
dominate and where the only currency is military power. Power, in
this view, is the indispensable element for survival and for the
extension of the regime’s values beyond its borders. What is known
by Ahmadinejad as active diplomacy describes a policy that seeks
to increase power not just to survive but to impose Iran on the
international community.35 Power and military strength thus ensure
the regime’s survival, values, and influence and must not be
bartered away, any more than they can be acquired through nego-
tiation. Negotiations, in this mind-set, reflect and ratify the balance
of power but add nothing to it. The best articulation of this view
comes from Larijani, who observes that to resist U.S. pressure Iran
has to use its “prominent geopolitical position.... You have to find
a way to be able to take the country’s level and status to a point so
as to automatically solve your national security problem, other-
wise this pressure factor will always weigh upon you.” What he has
in mind is clear: “If Iran becomes atomic Iran, no longer will any-
one dare challenge it, because they would have to pay too high a
price.” Larijani has also suggested that foreign sensitivity toward
Iranian nuclear activities “is partly because of Iran’s geopolitical sit-
uation and its inspiring position.”36 This perspective translates into
an approach to negotiation that aims at acquiring technology, not
goodwill; it sees possible offers of security guarantees as demean-
ing. “Iran does not need these kinds of condescending guarantees
and it is fairly capable of protecting itself.” Iran in this view does not
need either technology or status conferred on it: It is prepared to
seize them by its own efforts.37 Larijani sees North Korea’s impla-
cability as a model for Iran; sooner or later, he believes, the West
will have to concede Iran’s nuclear status, as it has North Korea’s.38
Rather than shunning confrontation, the ideological conserva-
tives welcome it for several reasons. First, they see Iran’s geopolit-
ical position giving it a number of important cards to play. Second,
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34 | Nuclear Energy Rationale, Domestic Politics, and Decsion Making

Iran’s increased oil income serves as a buffer against possible sanc-
tions. Third, this approach will successfully divide the West from
the nonaligned states, Russia, and China. Indifference to costs, iso-
lation, and sanctions differentiates the ideological from the prag-
matic conservatives. Where the pragmatists seek eventual
normalization, their ideological counterparts welcome the oppor-
tunity to purify the regime and society by limiting contamination
from the outside and asserting the revolution’s values of self-
reliance and authenticity.
Despite the fact that the ideological and pragmatic conservatives
are agreed on the goal of increasing Iran’s power and influence and
using nuclear technology to do it, they have very different visions of
the role Iran should play and the kind of relations Iran should have
with the world. Of the two, the ideological faction, largely self-
absorbed and insular, is the more prone to overestimate Iran’s power
and centrality and misjudge the external world.39 Ahmadinejad’s
comments on Israel (and the Holocaust) are indicative. They did
him no harm on the “Arab street” that sees its governments as too
timorous or corrupt to defend Palestinian rights. In the Iranian polit-
ical context, Ahmadinejad only voiced what the most extreme ele-
ments in the regime had long felt. As much as a deliberate
provocation, the statements reflected the new president’s complete
and studied indifference to and contempt for international opinion.
The pragmatic conservatives have sought to put a brake on this
approach. Rafsanjani has called for serious prudence and sensitiv-
ity, and Rowhani noted that in a matter of months the new govern-
ment had already provoked serious discussions of referral to the
Security Council on two occasions and had once been the object of
a critical Security Council statement.40
In the wake of the Ahmadinejad team’s confrontational tactics
and rhetoric and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
vote on September 24 that put Iran on notice of referral to the
UNSC, Rafsanjani led the rebuking voices. He argued against slo-
gans and for the more difficult task of delicate diplomacy: “Our
main task is to prove that we are not the sort of people to utilize
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Nuclear Energy Rationale, Domestic Politics, and Decision Making | 35

nuclear weapons” and to prove to Iran’s opponents that “Iran will
not use the technology for military purposes.”41
Critics of the Ahmadinejad mind-set face self-imposed limits;
however, these limits have more to do with domestic political-
economic issues than nuclear strategy. The critical issue remains
the domestic power struggle for control over finances and sources
of income. The pragmatists are fighting a rearguard action to main-
tain their control over lucrative areas of the economy such as energy
and banking. They are thus unwilling to push an issue that could
put them at a disadvantage in terms of nationalist opinion. For
example, Ahmadinejad charged that critics of his foreign policy are
attempting to create a diversion to continue their corrupt domes-
tic practices.42 The pragmatists are unwilling to risk division, polar-
ization, and destabilization of the regime, least of all on this issue.
They therefore have sought a practical accommodation on domes-
tic issues with their ideological counterparts. However, if the costs
of the crisis increase appreciably for Iran with the involvement of
the Security Council, the pragmatists will be in a position to point
to the ineptitude of the ideological faction and the need for less
haste in the program.43
Supreme Leader Khamenei, who prefers consensus, has been
unwilling to take sides on the nuclear issue and appears, if any-
thing, closer to the ideologists on it. Thus, Larijani and Ahmadine-
jad feel they have a free hand in their approach to the nuclear issue,
with no domestic force acting as a constraint. They continue to see
the benefits of brinksmanship, especially as the other side appears
uncertain, divided, or resigned. So far their approach has gained
benefits (for example, resumption of conversion and research)
without paying a tangible price. This outcome apparently vindi-
cates their approach, which seems set to continue. Whether this
will change as the costs of this approach increase is a critical ques-
tion, but it appears unlikely, in part because the leadership has
painted itself into a corner from which it will be difficult to exit.
In sum, then, the broad consensus on the nuclear issue obscures
very real differences that exist among the elite on overall foreign
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36 | Nuclear Energy Rationale, Domestic Politics, and Decsion Making

policy. There is little dispute on making Iran a more important
power, if possible by acquiring a nuclear capability, on seeking
independence, and on taking an independent position in interna-
tional affairs. Differences exist, however, on how to pursue these
goals and whether Iran should not adjust its aims in exchange for
the achievement of some of them. In essence, the basic division in
foreign policy is between those who seek an accommodation with
the West from a position of strength (Rafsanjani, Khatami,
Rowhani) and those who wish to challenge it by adopting the
course of the Islamic Republic circa 1979 (Ahmadinejad, Larijani,
Ayatollah Taghi Mesbahi Yazdi). This division corresponds to those
who are willing to consider a grand bargain with the United States
and to adjust their regional policies in exchange for recognition
and security guarantees and those who reject compromise in favor
of pursuit of regional hegemony and self-reliance. Thus, if one
group sees capabilities and policies as bargaining chips, then the
other seeks the determined pursuit of goals without reference to the
costs or consequences. In nuclear policy this translates into a divi-
sion between those who emphasize confidence building and are
willing to compromise and those for whom a nuclear capability is
indispensable and compromise unthinkable. The contrast between
the two is captured in the differences in the diplomacy of Rowhani
and Larijani described below. President Ahmadinejad’s election has
given voice to a harder, more belligerent element, which has aggra-
vated these differences and given rise to what amounts to a strug-
gle for power between these two tendencies. The Supreme Leader
will find it harder to paper over these differences in a continuing
ambiguous consensus and may need, for once, to take sides.

Decision Making

Policy reflects politics as well as narrower institutional considera-
tions. The broad political context and climate necessarily affect
decisions. Hard-line newspapers such as Keyhan have quasi-official
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Nuclear Energy Rationale, Domestic Politics, and Decision Making | 37

status and more leeway than their dwindling reformist counter-
parts, which sets the tone for—as well as skews—the public debate.
Figures 1 and 2 schematically and approximately reflect the nuclear
decision-making structure in Iran. Iran’s nuclear decisions reflect
institutional inputs and interest group biases, with policies emerg-
ing that are not a product of a unitary system. In addition to the
decision-making structure diagrammed in Figure 1, one could note
the Supreme Leader’s soundings among his clerical network (in
Qom and elsewhere) and the primacy of informal networks.44 Rec-
ognizing that these informal contacts and procedures are as influ-
ential as the formal organograms, decisions taken by the Supreme
Leader reflect a rough-and-ready consensus. Among the inputs into
decisions are interested parties such as the Atomic Energy Organi-
zation, which looks to its institutional interests and strongly sup-
ports the nuclear program. It can argue in terms of sunk costs,
experience acquired, and the costs of a long suspension of activi-
ties in terms of morale and attrition of scientific personnel. The For-
eign Ministry and SNSC can argue the costs of estrangement and
confrontation with Europe and the IAEA and international obliga-
tions. The SNSC is not monolithic and reflects all tendencies; there-
fore, the appointment of Hasan Rowhani, the long-standing
secretary and pragmatist as chief nuclear negotiator, in 2003 was in
itself a significant choice. Decisions reached in the SNSC provide
the leadership with a sort of consensus safety net, enabling it to
avoid taking the heat for controversial decisions. Since August
2005, the composition of the leadership of the SNSC has changed,
as Ali Larijani has now replaced the pragmatic Hasan Rowhani as
principal negotiator (see Figure 2).

Effects of Domestic Politics on Negotiations

Iranian negotiators’ and politicians’ insistence on a national consen-
sus behind the nuclear program serves two functions: one, to give
leverage to the negotiators who will have “to answer to the people”
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38 | Nuclear Energy Rationale, Domestic Politics, and Decsion Making

Nuclear Decision Making: Institutions and Key Players
Iran’s nuclear program in the 1990s was split into two parallel streams: a civilian program
under the AEO; and a military program under the Revolutionary Guards. The two streams
were consolidated in early 2000. Decision making on nuclear issues in Iran has tradition-
ally been confined to three institutions coordinated by the leadership. The AEO has dealt
with technical issues, the Foreign Ministry with their foreign ramifications, and special
units of the Revolutionary Guards with the security of facilities.
After September 2003, nuclear “czar” Hasan Rowhani, Secretary of the Supreme
National Security Council (SNSC), coordinated nuclear issues. In August 2005 he was
replaced by Ali Larijani as Secretary of the SNSC. Rowhani remained on the SNSC as the
Supreme Leader’s Personal Representative.
Since June 2005, President Ahmadinejad, seeking to put his own imprint on foreign
policy, has significantly changed the personnel. In replacing Rowhani, Larijani has in
effect become National Security Advisor. Rowhani’s deputy’s position (Mousavian) has
been split into two: one covering international security, including the nuclear dossier
(Javad Vaidi), and another covering political and foreign affairs (Ali Monfared). The nuclear
negotiating team has also changed. The preceding team has been terminated, but no
clearly designated replacements have been named as yet. Larijani, rather than the Foreign
Minister Manuchehr Mottaki, will have principal responsibility for the nuclear issue.
Akhoundzadeh serves as Ambassador to the IAEA in Vienna. The new Defense Minister
replacing Shamkhani is Brigadier General Mustafa Mohammad Najjar.
Sources: Elaine Sciolino, “Iran Plans a Vast Nuclear Build Up,” International Herald Tri-
bune, May 15, 1995, p. 1/6; Elaine Sciolino, “Tehran Grants a Glimpse of a Nuclear Site
Reborn,” International Herald Tribune, May 20–21, 1995, p. 1/5; Chris Hedges, “Iran’s
Push for Nuclear Arms and a Small Airstrip in Germany,” International Herald Tribune,
March 16, 1995, p. 1/8; and Arab Times (Kuwait), “Iran Restarts ‘Eyes’ Work at N Plant,”
August 2, 2005.

Figure 1. Institutional Flow of Decision Making

Supreme Leader Office Representatives
1. Velayati
1. Velayati: International Relations Advisor
Supreme Leader
2. Ali
Larijani: Leaders
Leader’s Personal
Representative onon SNSC

Hashemi Rafsanjani IRGC

H. Rowhani (Secretary SNSC
H. Rowhani:Secretary / Chief
SNSC/Chief Negotiator,
Leader’s Representative)
Mousavia Secretary to
Foreign Policy Committee
Negotiating Teams Br.
n Gen. Mustafa
Mustafa Mohammad
Mohammad NajjarNajjar / Defence
: Defense Minister
Hasan Rowhani)
((Hasan Rowhani) (Khatami/)M.
Khatami / M. Ahmadinejad
Ahmadinejad: /
President (Acronyms):
Hossein Mousavia
SNSC- Supreme National Security
n Sirus
Naseri Council
Mohammad JavadZarif
Mohamma Javad Zarif Majlis
d Alborzi
Mohammad Reza Alborzi
IRGC- Islamic Revolutionary Guards
Alaedin Borujerdi
Borujerdi Corps (Pasdaran)
Ali Agha
Reza Mohammadi
Agha Mohammadi (Head, National
(Head, National Security
Security & Foreign
& Foreign Policy
Policy Committee)
(SNSC) Committee) Special
Special committees
committees AEO- Atomic Energy Organization
Pirooz Hoseyni
Pirooz Hoseyni Supervisory role
Supervisory through
role throughinvestigative mechanisms
Amir HosseinZamani -Nia
Zamani -Nia

Foreign Ministry
IAEA (Vienna): NPT safeguards
UN (Geneva)

IRGC (plantsecurity)
AEO Chief, RezaAghazadeh
Chief, Reza Aghazadeh, ,isisVice
Vice President
& Cabinet
Mohammad SaidiSaidi (International Affairs)
(International Affairs)
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Nuclear Energy Rationale, Domestic Politics, and Decision Making | 39

Figure 2. Key Decision Makers

New Negotiating Team and Ministers: Changes for 2006

Ali Larijani Replaced Rowhani as Secretary of the SNSC.
Javad Vaidi Deputy Head of International Affairs of SNSC
and Head of Delegation.
Ali Hossein Tash Deputy Head of SNSC for Strategic Affairs
Mohammad Nahavandian Deputy for Economic Affairs of SNSC.
Mohammad Saidi Deputy Head of AEO for International Affairs.
Ali Asghar Soltaniyeh Deputy Director-General for political and
international Affairs, Foreign Ministry (until
December 23, 2005).
Then IAEA representative.
Mohammed Mehdi Akhoundzadeh Permanent Representative to IAEA
(until December 23, 2005).
Abdol Reza Rahmani-Fazli Deputy Secretary of SNSC.
Ali Monfared Deputy to the SNSC Secretary, replaced Mousavian.
Manuchehr Mottaki Foreign Minister, replaced Kharrazi.
Mustafa Mohammad Najjar Defense Minister, replaced General Ali Shamkhani

Source: Rowhani, Keyhan Interview, Report to President Khatami. The reconstruc-
tion with names is the author’s and reflects informed guesswork.
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40 | Nuclear Energy Rationale, Domestic Politics, and Decsion Making

if they are too soft in negotiations and two, to stiffen the spine of
politicians who might be tempted to weaken support for the proj-
ect. For example, Rowhani has said that “any Iranian government
that wishes to stop uranium enrichment will fall.” Hashemi Rafsan-
jani echoed this saying that “they are telling us blatantly that we
should not acquire nuclear technology: and we, in return, tell them
that we shall not abandon the peoples’ right and we shall not sub-
mit to bullying.” 45 However, in a system that has manipulated the
issue of nuclear energy by depicting it as an issue of denial and dis-
crimination, skepticism is in order when Iranian leaders insist that
public opinion would or would not tolerate a certain path or that
it forces them to do such and such.46 Related to this is the assertion
that no matter who is president, policy will remain the same.47
The Majles is also invoked to argue that Iranian negotiators can-
not be flexible. For example, the passage of a bill by the Majles in
mid-2005 calling for a resumption of the enrichment program was
quickly approved by the hard-line Guardian Council, though with-
out any legal standing. Negotiators also say that the government is
under heavy pressure, with people and the media demanding
results from the negotiations. This pressure is said to stem from the
hard-liners who shun any compromise and want to provoke an
international crisis to strengthen their own grip on power.48 In
response Iranian negotiators have sought to use this domestic pres-
sure to pressure their European negotiating partners. The result is
the kind of brinksmanship just short of rupture.49
Iranian negotiators feel, with reason, that by accepting a freeze
on enrichment activities during negotiations with the EU-3, they
entered into an asymmetrical commitment that gave the Europeans
an incentive to prolong the discussions and thereby impose serious
costs on Iran’s nuclear program. To try to win back some of the
ground it feels it lost, Iran has sought to impose deadlines and
sometimes to manufacture an air of crisis about the urgency for an
accord. Suspension is resisted for several reasons. The AEO
opposes a freeze because of its impact on the retention and employ-
ment of scientific personnel.50 The cost of a cessation (of a small
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Nuclear Energy Rationale, Domestic Politics, and Decision Making | 41

pilot project), one expert argued, is a minimum $5 billion and the
failure of fifteen years of effort. From a technical standpoint, the
argument is that the elimination of one of the five phases of nuclear
production “will render all other phases and the efforts of scientists
in past years ineffective.”51 Hard-liners are also skeptical about
where the suspension will lead. They fear that periodically rolling
over the suspension will make the nuclear issue, with delay, less
contentious and thus susceptible to compromise—in effect that
prolonged suspension would become cessation by another name.
Every effort was made to mobilize against this in the negotiations
and to insist that suspension served no good purpose since Iran will
not, under any conditions, relinquish its rights.52
The hard-liners, while not the only forces in Iran’s politics, are
disproportionately powerful, vehement, and vocal. Reformists’ crit-
icisms of this extremism are mild but trenchant.53 What difference
does this prevailing hard line make to decisions on the nuclear
issue? Having hyped the subject domestically and put the prestige
of the regime on the line, the Iranian government may find it dif-
ficult to walk away from the contest without some compensation.
A decent compromise package, however, could be sold domesti-
cally by a determined leadership. But such a leadership would have
to first sideline the extremists and then retreat under a smoke-
screen of strong rhetoric.
And this does not seem to be the intent of the new Iranian gov-
ernment. In August it sought to depict its predecessors as “soft” in
defending the “nation’s rights.”54 But in their defense, the earlier
team revealed that they only used the negotiations to buy time and
stall while continuing with conversion as long as possible.55 These
revelations have not enhanced Western faith in Iran’s bona fides.
The nuclear issue has been used to buttress the regime’s legitimacy,
which has been successfully depicted as a nationalist issue around
which all Iranians can rally. The issue of the right to technology has
elided almost imperceptibly into the “right to the fuel cycle.” In this
there have been a few dissenters.56 The hyping of the nuclear issue
as a right, a symbol of modernity and independence, as well as a
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42 | Nuclear Energy Rationale, Domestic Politics, and Decsion Making

consensus issue on which there is little scope for disagreement may
have bound Iran’s hands and narrowed the scope for an eventual
At the same time the lack of trust on all sides makes a technical
fix that might otherwise be an option less acceptable to all sides.57
Because the issue is fundamentally political, not technical, and
because it hinges on trust, the international negotiators insist that
“none is easier to monitor than some.” Specialists have concluded
that it would be “difficult if not impossible to verify that Iran was
not secretly making nuclear weapons under any deal that allowed
Iran to enrich uranium. The inspection burden would either be
unacceptable to Iran or provide inadequate assurance for the rest
of the world [emphasis added].”58
Another possibility that looks more feasible is one in which Iran
mines and processes uranium to gas (at the Isfahan facility) but
then ships the uranium hexafluoride gas to Russia. Russia would
then convert it into fuel rods and ship it back to the reactor in
Bushire. This would enable Iran to claim that it is using uranium
from Iran to power Iranian reactors, while the Europeans could
claim that they stopped Iran from the enrichment process that
would have given them the ability to make fissile material for
nuclear weapons.59 However, this Russian proposal is unlikely to fly
as it is just another way of denying Iran enrichment. Iran insists on
access to the full fuel cycle but under extreme pressure might set-
tle for the interim acceptance of the principle of enrichment and a
limited or pilot project reflecting this. Domestic politics limits Iran’s
ability to forgo enrichment or the dismantling of any facilities,
while a freeze or the forgoing of future capabilities would be easier
to swallow. Schemes that take the most sensitive parts of the fuel
cycle out of Iran to Russia, for example, might be acceptable, if Iran
retains the right (even limited to principle) to the full fuel cycle.
Iran has objected to multinational or regional enrichment facilities
or to a five- or ten-year moratorium on enrichment, proposed by
Al Baradei. But both of these proposals are less objectionable than
the U.S. approach, which is to limit enrichment to those countries
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Nuclear Energy Rationale, Domestic Politics, and Decision Making | 43

already possessing it.60 This constitutes, in Iran’s view, another set
of discriminations within the NPT, and it accounts for why Iranian
officials have sought to depict Iran’s nuclear know-how as irre-
versible and insist that Iran has already achieved the requisite capa-
Nevertheless, Iran’s insistence on self-sufficiency and right to
the full fuel cycle is difficult to square with the EU-3 and U.S. insis-
tence that Iran forgo enrichment. Any formula that leaves Iran with
a capability would be unacceptable to the United States and the
EU-3, while any formula assuring them runs up against Iran’s red-
lines regarding enrichment. Compromise appears difficult, exacer-
bated by a lack of trust on both sides. Ironically, negotiations that
might have helped by buying time have only underscored the dif-
ferences. In short, as discussed in chapter five, Iran’s negotiating
strategy with the EU-3 and its behavior with the IAEA have not
enhanced its goal of gaining acceptance of its right to the full fuel
In sum, then, the regime has used the nuclear issue for domes-
tic legitimation and is now limited by it. Although Iranian decision
making reflects a broad consensus, there is leeway for choice by the
leadership. This in turn depends on the leadership resisting the
temptation to provoke a crisis for narrow partisan and regime rea-
sons and on a realistic estimate of Iran’s relative power and lever-
age. It also depends on being offered a package that can be used as
a cover for compromise.
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Fear of a Nuclear Iran

ran is difficult to read and Iranian society is hard to categorize.1
I Iran is not a typical outlaw state in that it has at least some
redeeming qualities: It is not overtly confrontational or given to
wild swings in behavior or to delusional goals; it has not
denounced arms control treaties to which it formally adheres; and
there is evidence of pluralism and some debate within the country.
Though a threat to Western interests, the nature of that threat is dif-
ficult to categorize. As was shown in Iraq, not being able to read a
state’s nature can lead to faulty assessments, particularly when deal-
ing with already limited intelligence.
Iran’s combination of a sense of grievance and a sense of entitle-
ment is not reassuring. Though pragmatic, Iran has demonstrated
a powerful streak of opportunism—seizing tactical openings with-
out reference to other concerns and being unfussy about its tacti-
cal alliances to promote its interests. Related is the closed nature of
the regime that is often self-absorbed to the point that it can grossly
misread or ignore others’ concerns, increasing the risk of miscalcu-
lation.2 Moreover, the closed nature of the regime breeds secrecy,
dissimulation, and deception. This deliberate ambiguity facilitates
activities that can be disclaimed (deniability). All of these traits are
evident in the areas discussed below.

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Fear of a Nuclear Iran | 45

Nuclear Infrastructure and Program

Iranian leaders insist that their nuclear infrastructure is intended for
peaceful purposes. Whatever the merits of a large-scale nuclear
program for a state well endowed with oil and gas deposits, the
infrastructure being developed is itself a cause for concern. The
nature, scale, and sequencing of the program suggest a weapons
program.3 Together with Iran’s failure to disclose certain activities
to the IAEA until they were exposed and the possibility that other
such activities remain in a clandestine undeclared program, there
are ample grounds for suspicion. Furthermore, there are still some
troubling questions pending with the IAEA: namely, activities in
Lavizan and Iran’s interest in polonium, which is normally associ-
ated with a weapons program.4 In addition there are unanswered
questions about whether Iran acquired P2 centrifuge technology on
offer from Pakistan. If so, these centrifuges would shorten the time
needed for Iran to build a weapon. There is also the issue of orga-
nizational links and contacts between the AEO and the military,
which raises questions about the exclusively peaceful and civil
nature of program.5 The pattern of Iran’s clandestine procurement
over the past decade has long convinced the United States in par-
ticular of Iran’s weapons ambitions. To these are added the question
whether Iran—like Libya—received nuclear weapon designs
through the AQ Khan network.6 Finally, the way in which revela-
tions of Iran’s sensitive facilities (the uranium enrichment plant in
Natanz and the heavy water plant at Arak) surfaced and the reluc-
tant and contradictory method in which Iran has dealt with them—
through half truths, inconsistencies, undeclared activities, lies, and
erection of obstacles to hinder and render inspections useless—all
suggest the body language of a state with something to hide.
Iranian officials appear to delight in obfuscation, slipping from
discussing nuclear technology to a weapons capability and back again:

Believe me, psychologically it is as if we have a nuclear bomb
now and they (i.e. the West) treat us in accordance with that
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46 | Fear of a Nuclear Iran

belief ... they treat us like this because they think we have
such a thing. They are always worried that something may
happen and they may have to deal with a nuclear Iran with
nuclear weapons. We want to produce fuel. We truly want to
produce fuel. It has nothing to do with us if technically the
system for the production of fuel through enrichment is such
that we are able to produce something else.7

Whether Iran is, or is close to being, self-sufficient in nuclear
technology will determine how effective international pressure and
sanctions will be, if the country embarks on a determined nuclear
weapons program. The point of no return is reached when a coun-
try is no longer technologically dependent on other sources; it is
only a matter of time until enough fissile material is amassed for a
nuclear weapon. Given the uncertainties of intelligence, estimates
of Iranian achievement of a nuclear capability range from five to ten


Alongside the nuclear infrastructure, Iran’s missile program is espe-
cially troubling. The development of the missile industry in paral-
lel with the quest for nuclear technology suggests they may be
linked and that the missiles are intended as delivery systems for
nuclear or other WMD warheads.9 This may indeed be the expla-
nation, but it is not the only one. There are both certainties and
uncertainties about this program. What is clear, however, is that
Iran relies on missiles and wants their development to reflect its sta-
tus as a regional power. Its missile program is highly political, and
much publicity and fanfare attend its various milestones.10 Tehran
has placed emphasis on missiles since 1988 and believes they will
be decisive in future conflicts.11 It initially developed missiles with
assistance from North Korea (from Soviet-era SCUDs together with
Korean NO DONG technology). Today its missiles take the form of
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Fear of a Nuclear Iran | 47

the SHIHAB-3, deployed since July 2003. Similar to the SCUD-C
(or Pakistan GAWRI), this missile is liquid fueled and has a range
of approximately 1,000 kilometers with a one-ton warhead. So far,
while largely a self-sufficient domestic industry, Iran’s missile pro-
gram is relatively constrained, with rather limited guidance and
precision systems and several delays and failures. Iran is preparing
to send a satellite into orbit, allegedly for peaceful purposes, but
this would imply a multistage missile that Iran has yet to master. A
multistage missile will certainly have military implications. Iran
also seeks to develop the more technically demanding solid fuel
propulsion for its missiles, which would increase the range of mis-
siles and improve their accuracy and stability.12 Guidance can also
be improved through generally available technology like the global
positioning system (GPS). And, finally, Iran continues to seek cruise
missiles from states and on the open market.13
It is clear that Iran has ambitions as a missile power.14 It attrib-
utes to missiles an almost mystical quality from the experience of
the war with Iraq and seeks to make political capital from its tech-
nological breakthroughs. Iran has recently announced the testing of
a ballistic missile with multiple warheads as well as high-speed
underwater missiles.15 While trumpeting the successes of its mis-
sile program, Iran has not been very sensitive to other states’ con-
cerns. 16 Israel, in particular, whose existence Iran considers
illegitimate, has been the most concerned. The range of Iran’s mis-
siles (reaching Israel), together with the anti-Israel slogans painted
on missiles at parades, does nothing to reassure Israel about Iranian
intentions. Given the short distances and the cross-cutting alliances
in the region, the introduction of more missiles could make for
hair-trigger responses and mistakes. The missile culture of the
region (missiles have been used in Iran, Iraq, Yemen, and
Afghanistan) compounds this threat. Given limited reaction time
and the narrow margin for error, Israel has to treat any incoming
missile “as if it carries WMD warheads” and react accordingly.17
It would be imprudent to assume that Iran will lag technically
indefinitely or that its missile program has no relationship to the
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48 | Fear of a Nuclear Iran

development of a nuclear infrastructure. Both programs could have
other uses, but both also constitute options or investments in what
could become an integrated nuclear weapons and delivery sys-
tem.18 That said, it is important not to infer an automatic relation-
ship between Iran’s missile and nuclear programs. It would be
wrong to assume any automatic relationship between a missile pro-
gram and a nuclear program. But it would be imprudent to assume no
relationship. In both cases, the domestic political dimension—Iran
as a technologically developed state—is as important as the quest
for regional status. Iran has sought to avoid reliance on outside
arms suppliers since 1988 when U.S. sanctions virtually grounded
its air force. Ever since, missiles have been seen as a substitute for
airpower, which is costly (spare parts, avionics, pilots, and training)
and creates dependency. In contrast, missiles are assured of pene-
tration, survivable (hidden, dispersed, mobile), and cheaper over
their life cycle. Never mind that they are less accurate, less flexible,
and carry less payload. Unlike airpower, they decouple destructive
capacity from military capability (or skill). As such, missiles can act
as a crude deterrent. They are thus the ideal weapon for an ambi-
tious and status-hungry state limited in military capacity. Unfortu-
nately, one could make exactly the same argument in justification
of a nuclear weapons program.

Closed System

The Iranian political system even after twenty-seven years still
functions more like a conspiracy than a government. Decision
making for national security has been concentrated in a few hands,
most notably where the nuclear program is concerned.19 This in
itself is a cause for concern because it is not clear if the handful of
decision makers are familiar with the lessons of the nuclear era or
have given serious thought to the implications and responsibilities
entailed in the possession of nuclear weapons materials. Safety of
materials and integrity of command and control are areas of con-
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Fear of a Nuclear Iran | 49

cern as is vetting of officials for political reliability. In a regime
with radical elements, the possibility of unreliable elements pass-
ing on materials is very real. The parallels with the Pakistan expe-
rience suggest that the “insider” problem may be even more
serious in Iran, where there are several factions within the ruling
The increasing role of the Revolutionary Guards in Iran’s politics
is another source of concern. Of 152 new members elected to the
Majles in February 2004, 91 had Guards backgrounds, and a fur-
ther 34 former Guards officers now hold senior-level posts in the
government.20 In the June 2005 presidential elections, besides
Ahmadinejad, there were three other candidates from the Guards.
The dominance of the Guards and intelligence officials could open
the country to a new militarism.21
These elements may become a law unto themselves, having
interfered twice in recent months on issues about which they felt
strongly.22 As a hard-line interest group, the Guards could have
disproportionate influence on how Iran looks at nuclear weapons
and behaves with them once acquired. Moreover, as custodians of
Iran’s most sensitive weapons sites, the Guards are in a critical posi-
tion to assure safety and to prevent leakage of dangerous materials
to terrorists. Yet these same Guards have been in charge of liaison,
training, and running of terrorists. Because the Guards are recruited
and chosen for their ideological commitment to the regime, their
zealotry has certain risks. Vetted only for regime commitment
(rather than psychological stability), the Guards may contain unsta-
ble elements willing to transfer sensitive nuclear or biological tech-
nology to terrorist groups. Technology transfer could be done by a
freelance insider, by inadvertence through leakage from poorly
secured facilities, or as a result of an institutional policy decided by
the Guards leadership, perhaps unhappy with a government in a
crisis. Without strong civilian control and a clear chain of com-
mand that takes very seriously the threat of leakage or transfers, the
risk will continue to exist.23 Whether the regime’s penchant for
secrecy is compatible with accountability is worrisome.
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50 | Fear of a Nuclear Iran

Besides transfer and leakage from sources within the regime,
there is a more general risk from ultranationalists, military or civil-
ian. This is the tenor of the discourse of the current government,
which may reflect much deeper currents. The regime has played
the nationalist card in the nuclear issue, so far successfully, but
with one clear result: It has narrowed its own room for maneuver.
Iran’s grandstanding on Palestine as a Muslim issue is analogous to
Arab states using it as an Arab issue—as a way of accruing domes-
tic capital for their minority regimes deficient in political legiti-
macy.24 The cultivation and exploitation of ultranationalism is a
two-edged sword that leaves regimes as much a captive as a driver
of the phenomenon (note the recent parallels with China and
Japan). The danger here is that in crises such regimes losing con-
trol become the captive of mobs and emotions, increasing the risk
of miscalculation and conflict.25


As terrorism has evolved, the aims of terrorists can no longer be
assumed to be limited. Given the motivation to inflict major
destruction, the limiting factor in terrorists’ capacity to do so has
become technological. But reliance on technology denial in an age
of globalization is a thin reed on which to base security. Reliable
barriers to prevent the diffusion and leakage of technology to
groups determined to target states has become a strategic priority.
After 9/11, a major concern has been to close off any paths by
which this destructive technology might reach hostile terrorist
In U.S. thinking, the most likely source for WMD technology for
terrorists is supply from outlaw states seeking to damage the United
States by waging proxy wars through asymmetrical strategies. In
this view such states by definition seek WMD and consort with ter-
rorists: Why would they not transfer WMD to terrorists who share
their animosity toward the United States? The first thought of the
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Fear of a Nuclear Iran | 51

president after 9/11 was to wonder whether Iraq or Iran had some-
thing to do with the attack.27 Since 9/11 the idea is that because of
these relationships and their possible role as enablers of terrorists’
WMD ambitions, rogue states need to be dealt with severely. Pre-
venting proliferation to such states became a means of preventing
their transfer to terrorists. As President Bush said in a 2005 speech
at the National Endowment for Democracy, “We’re determined to
deny weapons of mass destruction to outlaw regimes and their ter-
rorist allies who would use them without hesitation.”28
Since 1984 Iran has been labeled a state sponsor of terrorism,
and in recent years it has been promoted to being “the most active
state sponsor of terrorism.”29 This record and reputation, together
with its WMD ambitions and its—at best—ambiguous nuclear pro-
gram, make it a potentially dangerous adversary as well as a major
threat as a supplier of such weapons to terrorists groups. As Sena-
tor Richard Lugar (R-IN) put it, “The possibility of a nuclear
weapons capable Iran is particularly grave because of the Iranian
regime’s connections to terrorists.”30 U.S. government reports esti-
mate that “only Iran appears to have the possible future motivation
to use terrorist groups in addition to its own state agent, to plot
against the U.S. homeland.”31 Nuclear proliferation, a serious
enough matter in itself, is doubly so when the potential prolifera-
tor has the profile of Iran.
Iran’s support of terrorism is in fact a mixed record. Although it
is no longer used routinely as an instrument of state policy, Iran has
by no means dispensed with terrorism completely.32 Such sup-
port is now focused on the Middle East in general. Iran still actively
supports Hezbollah, and (allegedly) through it and on its own,
supports the crossover to Sunni Hamas and Islamic Jihad.33 Iran’s
continued support for Hezbollah and its militia at a time when
Lebanon is in flux and Syria is in retreat also exposes Tehran to crit-
icism as a spoiler.34
Characteristically, the regime in Tehran seeks to have it both
ways: to show that terrorism is a thing of the past, while keeping
its options open. The former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati has
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52 | Fear of a Nuclear Iran

argued that even terrorism in the past was “not in the interest of the
country,” attributing responsibility to “those who were against bal-
anced and active relations ... with Europe.” At the same time Iran
reports comments from the Secretary-General of Hezbollah saying
that if Iran were attacked, U.S. interests throughout the world
would be attacked and that “we can build an atom bomb and we
should have [atom bombs].”35 Hezbollah is also a political party in
Lebanon with members sitting in Parliament. As a result Hezbollah
has shown restraint, as well as sensitivity to Israel’s capacity to retal-
iate and to its own position in Lebanese politics. Hezbollah is not
normally considered comparable to Al Qaeda, which clearly seeks
WMD, but such statements raise doubts and give credence to one
analyst’s observation that “there are numerous groups, from Al
Qaida to Hezbollah to various doomsday cults, who would have
the motive and capacity to seek out nuclear weapons.”36
Al Qaeda and Hezbollah have had contacts and cooperated
before 9/11. The most serious development, however, is Iran’s pro-
vision of sanctuary to Al Qaeda elements escaping from Afghanistan
in 2002–2003 and inconsistent statements about whether or not Al
Qaeda elements were in Iran, which raised questions about Tehran’s
motivations. Iranian officials initially denied providing safe haven
to Al Qaeda and later suggested that they would be repatriated on
a selective basis or tried in Iran.37 Iran gave the impression that it
was holding on to Al Qaeda operatives as a bargaining card, possi-
bly for trading against U.S. control of the Iranian opposition force,
the Mujahaddin (Islamic guerrilla fighters), in Iraq.38
There is no reason to believe that Iran today, any more that Sad-
dam Hussein earlier, would transfer WMD technology to terrorist
groups like Al Qaeda or Hezbollah. Iran has used any group that
can further its interests, irrespective of sectarian affiliation or polit-
ical orientation, as evidenced by its link with Al Qaeda and through
Hezbollah with Islamic Jihad and Hamas. Currently Iran is sus-
pected of arming Sunni and Shiite groups in Iraq, providing them
with arms, technology (through the cut-out and conduit of Hezbol-
lah), and training. The aim is to bleed the United States and Great
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Fear of a Nuclear Iran | 53

Britain, signal Iran’s regional leverage, and keep the United States
bogged down and unwilling to consider targeting Iran. In the
process Iran is abetting the diffusion of technology (such as shaped
charges and infra-red bombs) in precisely the way it did from
Lebanon to the West Bank and Gaza.39
Relations with such groups are essentially tactical, and the over-
lap of interest is not total. No government that wanted to survive
would hand over to such groups the means and the decisions that
could affect its own vital national security interests. Direct transfer,
however, is only one of the ways that links with terrorists might
increase dangers from proliferation. Hezbollah, for example, might
feel emboldened by its sponsor’s new capabilities and act in ways
expecting support from Tehran.40 In the past Iran has used its ties
with Hezbollah (armed with Katushya missiles) as a threat to deter
Israeli strikes against Iran.41 Using ties with terrorists as deterrence
against U.S. strikes in the future cannot be discounted.
This opportunistic attitude is quite consistent with Iranian oper-
ating style. Simply put, Iran has never paid a price for this involve-
ment dating from the Marine bombing in Beirut 1983 through Al
Khobar in 1996. Iranian links with Al Qaeda, together with the cur-
rent policy of ambiguity toward that group, suggest either a degree
of ignorance about the intensity of feeling on this issue in the United
States, or an insouciance about the ability to get away with it through
calculated ambiguity and indirection.42 Neither explanation—
ignorance or brinksmanship—is reassuring about Iran’s use of terror-
ists and its likely policies once it has a nuclear capability.

Impact of a Nuclear Capability on Iran’s Behavior

Would possessing a nuclear weapons capability lead to greater
restraint or more aggressive policies in Iran? How would the acqui-
sition of nuclear weapons affect Iran’s goals or behavior? Even a
risk-averse state might be emboldened by a new capability. Analysts
differ on whether nuclear weapons would have a sobering effect on
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54 | Fear of a Nuclear Iran

all states, irrespective of orientation, and on the degree of risk-
taking states would be willing to run given the heightened stakes.43
Broadly speaking, the threat coming from an Iranian nuclear
weapons capability is multifaceted and could include the following
• Iran might be tempted to support terrorist groups such as
Hezbollah more openly, perhaps by seeking to extend
deterrence to them. At the least, new capabilities might
stimulate more radical elements (especially in the Guards)
to argue for a more ambitious set of policies.
• A more activist belligerent Iran might seek to use its
nuclear weapons to sanctuarize its homeland from
reprisal. Iran has tended to be conscious of its own mili-
tary weakness and has avoided running risks, but in light
of its opportunism and given the uncertainties as to how
a new major military capability might influence behav-
ior, neither eventuality can be completely discounted.44
• Iran’s strategic culture (its experience of Iraq’s surprise
attack in 1980, its decision-making culture, and its oper-
ating style) is likely to determine the command system it
sets up for its nuclear capability. Given the likelihood that
the Revolutionary Guards will be the custodians of this
new capability and that they see WMD as offensive
weapons rather than deterrents, there are grounds for
• Iran’s track record, even without a nuclear capability, is
not a model of restraint. Islamic Iran has made it a prac-
tice in crises to destabilize the region by threatening hor-
izontal escalation, by widening the dispute by stirring
regional instability, or by threatening states friendly to the
United States.46 In the current impasse between Iran and
the United States and the EU-3, Iranian officials have
made some characteristically veiled threats: If the United
States continued its (diplomatic) pressure, Iran would
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Fear of a Nuclear Iran | 55

have “no choice but to agitate conditions for America and
to endanger its interests.” Iran has indicated that a refer-
ral to the UNSC could result in regional repercussions:
“The region needs stability and the smoke of any escala-
tion in the region will hurt their own eyes.”47 In light of
current and past threats to hold the region hostage, there
is room for doubt about what a nuclear-capable Iran
would threaten.
• Despite its far-flung borders and more than a dozen
neighbors, Iran has invested heavily in missiles, domestic
production of arms, and research and development of
WMD, even though none of the regional threats it faces
are likely to be unconventional. That Iran’s conventional
capabilities have remained limited and barely developed
since 1988 therefore has dangerous implications. 48
Emphasis on missiles and possibly nuclear weapons
might give Iranian leaders the false impression that such
weapons are somehow more elastic in their uses than is
warranted by the experience so far. In looking for new
and novel uses to compensate for their conventional inad-
equacies, and in stretching their uses, Iran runs the risk
of lowering the threshold of nuclear weapons use. Iran
would thus leave itself with no other practical option
except threat or actual use of such weapons. This threat
would be reinforced domestically by a consideration of
sunk costs: Of what use are these weapons if they cannot
be applied practically in all contingencies? A balanced
conventional force in Iran would be more reassuring to
Iran’s neighbors and the international community.

Nuclear Weapons or Nuclear Option?

Iran has been clearly influenced by other proliferators. In assessing
the 1993–1994 North Korean case, Iran may have asked itself: “Do
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56 | Fear of a Nuclear Iran

you get international cooperation by cooperating with safeguards
or do you get cooperation by high-powered confrontation and bar-
gaining?”49 What is striking about the North Korean case, which
may or may not be applicable to Iran, is the perceived centrality of
nuclear weapons as the guarantor of regime security. This implies
that it is not a bargaining chip but an insurance policy unlikely to
be given up.50
There are grounds for assuming Iran’s interest in nuclear weapons.
Iran’s quest for status and regional influence, the need for deterrence
vis-à-vis the United States, and the possible political benefits domes-
tically in shoring up the regime are all possible reasons for seeking
nuclear weapons. However, a nuclear weapons option might meet
these needs equally well without the costs associated with overt pro-
liferation. Iran’s own statements are at best contradictory and reflect
the aim of exploiting ambiguity for strategic purposes.
After a rocky start in the 1980s, when Iranian officials made
several statements about the necessity for WMD and specifically
references to chemical weapons as “the poor man’s atomic weapon,”
such comments have since been repudiated.51 Periodically, how-
ever, the military in the form of the Revolutionary Guards appears
to revive this thinking. In 1998 secret comments by the Guards
Commander General Safavi—to the effect that Iran needed to
reconsider its participation in international conventions banning
WMD in light of the threat posed by Israel—were leaked and never
convincingly repudiated.52 There are also reports that the Guards
and military strategists are convinced that only a nuclear Iran can
assume its place as a major regional power and adequately deter a
possible attack from the United States or Israel.53 Former Guards
commander Mohsen Rezai criticized the negotiators for reducing
Iran’s deterrent capability by cooperating with inspectors and “turn-
ing over our country’s top intelligence documents,” suggesting (like
Saddam Hussein) that uncertainty about Iran’s capabilities serves as
a deterrent.54 Some conservatives have also noted the importance
of cultivating or simulating “irrationality” in bargaining and, by
extension, deterrence.55
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Fear of a Nuclear Iran | 57

Iranian officials insist that they have no nuclear weapons ambi-
tions but also note Israel’s “dangerous” possession of nuclear
weapons, which in their view means that “stability cannot be
achieved” in the region.56 They insist, nonetheless, that their own
nuclear ambitions are peaceful. As proof of their intentions, Iranian
leaders point to their refusal to countenance the development or
use of chemical weapons, even when a victim of Iraq’s chemical
weapon attacks between 1983 and 1988. They claim that Iran
opposes WMD on principle, with statements like “nuclear weapons
do not solve any problems” because power comes from morale and
unity.57 They maintain that WMD have had no place in Iran’s
defense strategy, national security, and defense doctrines—a stance
they argue is reflected in Iran’s adherence to all the relevant arms
control treaties.58 They further allege that Islam forbids nuclear
weapons and that Supreme Leader Khamenei has issued a fatwa
banning them.59 Rowhani has put the case more practically:

Our decision not to possess weapons of mass destruction is
strategic because we believe that these weapons will not pro-
vide security for Iran. On the contrary, they will create big
problems. Iran exerted huge efforts during the past few years
to build bridges of confidence with the states of the region.
We absolutely do not want to blow up those bridges by mobi-
lizing our resources to produce weapons of mass destruc-
tion. We are confident that our possession of these weapons
will force these countries to seek the support of big powers.
Consequently, regional security will worsen. This will not
serve our national security.60

Earlier Rowhani argued that Iran’s acquisition of nuclear arms
would come at too high a price, not just in terms of regional influ-
ence, but also “their production would block our progress in other
scientific and technological fields.”61 (Presumably this refers to the
sanctions they would trigger.) Former defense minister Admiral
Ali Shamkhani also opposed nuclear weapons, stating that “the
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58 | Fear of a Nuclear Iran

problem is that we enjoy advanced technical know-how and the
enemies develop a perception that we are after nuclear arms,
whereas, we follow a strategy of not having such a dangerous
A former representative to the IAEA, Ali Akbar Salehi, gave the
most detailed argument against nuclear weapons. He argued that
possession would not enhance a state’s prestige, defended the NPT
despite its discriminatory nature, and noted that for Iran nuclear
weapons “would raise more threats against it, not assure security,
by having nuclear weapons.” He saw no threats on Iran’s periphery
necessitating nuclear weapons and believed that any such weapons
Iran acquired would not be able to deal with either Russian or
Israeli nuclear weapons.63 Iranians consistently emphasize Israel as
a strategic alibi, to divert accusations from Iran’s own program and
to defuse any potential regional criticisms. Curiously, there is little
discussion about the limited value of Israel’s nuclear weapons in
dealing with the Arab states’ conventional threat or the two
intifadas, nor is there reference to the specificity of the Israeli case
given the existence of an existential threat and the legacy of the
As was discussed in chapter two, there is no public debate in
Iran about the wisdom of acquiring nuclear weapons, and the lit-
tle discussion that exists is characterized by an alarming degree of
ignorance or oversimplification. Hard-line newspapers tend to
argue for nuclear weapons on deterrence grounds, noting that
Japan would not have been attacked if it had possessed nuclear
weapons and that possession does not necessarily mean use.65 Oth-
ers argue that nuclear weapons are of doubtful utility: “In fact it is
not clear what the value of having atomic bombs is. It seems that
the only thing that atomic bombs are capable of doing is to kill
innocent people and incite public opinion against the country
using these weapons.”66 There is a curious absence of serious con-
sideration of the specific costs and benefits of nuclear weapons and
no discussion of the relative cheapness of nuclear weapons, given
their concentrated power, or that the costs of such programs typi-
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Fear of a Nuclear Iran | 59

cally come in spikes with modernization cycles.67 Nor is the util-
ity of nuclear weapons for Iran’s specific security needs post-
Saddam and post-Taliban discussed. Deterrence is discussed as a
catch-all rather than relational concept, as if it were easily achieved
and absent associated costs. In general, the discussion appears more
to be about morale and status than defense.
It makes a difference for policy whether Iran seeks nuclear
weapons or just the option, and its nuclear drive has been consis-
tent with either. Both goals would be consistent with the aims, val-
ues, and lessons of the regime. No clear distinction is possible in a
country that emphasizes possessing the full fuel cycle, a missile
program, and a quest for recognition as a member of the nuclear
club. Even more questionable is Iran’s intentional muddying of the
issue of fuel supply security (which in principle is soluble with
guarantees) and the issue of the fuel cycle itself. In an unhealthy
dynamic, both the United States and Iran have, for their own dif-
ferent reasons, “exaggerated Iran’s nuclear capability,” making it
“harder to resolve.”68
The arguments for a nuclear option (or nonweaponized deter-
rence) are at least as strong as those for nuclear weapons. It appears
doubtful that Iran has decided definitively in favor of nuclear
weapons. In the absence of strategic urgency, the costs of getting
nuclear weapons outside the treaty do not appear commensurate
with the benefits for Iran. So there is no detectable grand strategy
but rather a determined push to get as close to a weapons capabil-
ity as possible within the treaty and then see what happens. In
playing the issue by ear with no irreversible commitments, Iran
hopes to avoid paying too high a price for achieving a near capa-
bility.69 But Iran’s determined incrementalism can be upset by the
dynamics of interactions. Iran’s own domestic politics, which has
seen leaders exaggerate the program, may inhibit Tehran from
appearing to halt or reverse it. And the unwillingness of Iran’s inter-
locutors, particularly the United States, to give Iran space or cover
for a retreat could further narrow options. Miscalculation on both
sides is thus a real risk.
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60 | Fear of a Nuclear Iran

Nuclear proliferation is traditionally visualized in terms of a
threshold, which once crossed, dramatically changes the status of
a state. Conceptualizing it as a continuum enables one to see vari-
ous stages in the process of proliferation—a spectrum of possibil-
ities comprising elements of various capabilities. Given gradations
short of a full weapons capability, change of status (nuclear/nonnu-
clear) is less dramatic and more shaded. The possibilities are often
referred to in shorthand as models: for example, the Japan model
(a full civilian capability easily converted to weapons capability
within the treaty); the Iraq model (covert weapons activities within
the treaty); and the Israel model (weapons capability, unassem-
bled, outside the treaty) (see Figures 3 and 4 for details on these
Iranian leaders have denied even seeking a capability, claiming
that they “do not want to be close to producing them [weapons].”70
Yet insistence on the fuel cycle, which has been the focus of nego-
tiations and the crux of the differences, ensures a close capability
to produce weapons should such a decision be made. This so-
called breakout option is implicit in what Iran seeks, in effect a
Japanese model of a full spectrum of capabilities short of
weaponization within the treaty—precisely what the EU-3 and the
United States seek to deny it.71
Iran’s attempt to position itself to acquire a nuclear option is a
classic case of nuclear hedging. As Ariel Levite has noted:

Nuclear hedging refers to a national strategy of maintaining,
or at least appearing to maintain, a viable option for the rel-
atively rapid acquisition of nuclear weapons, based on an
indigenous technical capacity to produce them within a rel-
atively short time frame ranging from several weeks to a few
years. In its most advanced form, nuclear hedging involves
nuclear fuel cycle facilities capable of producing fissionable
materials (by way of uranium enrichment and/or plutonium
separation) as well as the scientific and engineering expertise
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Fear of a Nuclear Iran | 61

Alternative Models
Figure 3. Pathways, Thresholds, and Positions of
Selected Nuclear-Capable States
Unsafeguarded NWS
IRAN Declared
outside treaty Tested
Declared or
virtual//opaque NPT safeguards
capacity doctrine AP signatory
Seeks full fuel cycle
Missile/space program
(Covert parallel fuel program?) Accepts constraints on fuel cycle ?
Does not accept fuel
Potential for “breakout”
cycle constraints
North Korea Japan model = (inside NPT)
_ sign treaty _ develop nuclear infrastructure

_ no safeguards _ energy rationale (diversification)

_ no inspectors _ space/missile program
Essential for _ “breakout”/expel inspectors _ plutonium economy
state survival?
_ plutonium 1994 _ “virtual capability,” i.e., materials
_ uranium enrichment 2002 _ NWS option [“threshold”]
chip? _ withdrawal from NPT _ U.S. security guarantees

_ “declared capability” (2005)
_ so far: no test of NW material from reactors, etc.,
ready for “breakout”

Iran uncertainties: state of nuclear capability, especially undeclared sites/facilities.
How flexible is ultimate decision on NWS?

Figure 4. Motivation and Capability Contrasted

_ Low demand / high capability
_ High demand / medium capability
_ NPT safeguards / inspections _ Peaceful use of N. technology
_ A.P. applied _ Space/missile programs
_ Missiles
_ Fuel-cycle ambitions _ Energy rationale
_ U.S. Security umbrella
_ Virtual capability

_ High demand / medium capability _ High demand/high capability
_ Plutonium diverted
_ Did not join NPT
_ Enrichment – fissile material
_ No inspections / safeguards
_ No safeguards / inspections
_ Declared withdrawal NPT _ Missile programs/submarines
_ Declared NWS capability, missile _ Unassembled weapons
capability _ Opaque nuclear doctrine
_ No test [so far]
_ Weaponization? _ [U.S. security umbrella]
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62 | Fear of a Nuclear Iran

both to support them and to package their final product into
a nuclear explosive charge.72

IAEA Director-General Mohammad Al Baradei has suggested
that “countries look at know-how as a deterrent. If you have
nuclear material, the weapon part is not far away.” Taking the
thought one step further, one U.S. intelligence official has noted
that a deterrent value need not come from a successful nuclear
program but from convincing others, including neighbors, of the
existence of such a program.73 The implication is that the appear-
ance of full fuel cycle capabilities can itself achieve some of the
functions or benefits of a nuclear deterrent. Iran’s quest for a virtual
capability is consistent with an inclination to hedge against an
uncertain security future, to maximize its opportunities within the
NPT, and to brag about (and exaggerate) its technological and sci-
entific progress at home.74 This does not preclude a willingness to
meet international concerns (that is, to use its claimed capability as
a bargaining card), but it does seek to drive a hard bargain that
includes regime security guarantees. Alternatively, Iran can still
take its time and drive closer to a fuel cycle capability by legally and
gradually acquiring and building up under inspections its “nuclear
know-how technology and materiel necessary to produce nuclear
weapons some day if a dire strategic threat should arise.”75 The
critical question, then, is how close to a weapons option Iran can
prudently be allowed to get, and what can be done about it.
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Iran’s Negotiating Strategy

IIran’ran has improvised a strategy to deal with the “outing of its
nuclear facilities” undeclared to the IAEA for nearly two decades.
s tactics and negotiating style, far from reassuring the interna-
tional community, have exacerbated the problem of trust. Thus,
four years after the issue first surfaced, questions remain as to the
extent and peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.

From Damage Limitation to Confrontation

The surprise revelation of its undeclared nuclear activities in 2002
caught Tehran unprepared. It came at a sensitive time, with victory
in Afghanistan feeding a U.S. sense of confidence that was manifest
in planning the next phase of the war against terrorism and prolif-
eration of WMD in Iraq. Tehran swiftly sought to limit damage and
decided to deal with the revelations and attendant inquiry from
within the treaty, as a way of gaining time to devise a strategy.
Iran’s policy has been conscious of developments elsewhere.
Libya’s decision to give up its WMD activities in 2003 on the one
hand and North Korea’s decision to withdraw from the NPT and
claim possession of nuclear weapons on the other clearly contrasted

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64 | Iran’s Negotiating Strategy

with Iran’s course, which is somewhere between the two. At the
same time, revelations of the extent of the activities of the AQ Khan
network in sales of nuclear equipment and designs to Iran put
Tehran under further pressure to admit the totality of its program.
Unwilling to imitate Libya or North Korea, Tehran continued to
cooperate with the IAEA and the EU-3, reluctantly and partially
confirming only what was uncovered, while insisting on its rights to
technology as an NPT member. Iran’s approach has several defining
• Iran’s receptivity to the EU-3 and cooperation with the
IAEA has varied with Tehran’s sense of vulnerability or
• Having “talked up the issue” domestically after 2002,
negotiators tied their own hands in the negotiations.
• Domestic divisions also led to counterproductive grand-
standing by negotiators.
• Iran saw concessions as dangerous, starting a slippery
slope to more (U.S.) demands, culminating in regime
• Iran’s negotiating style, legalistic and hair-splitting, paral-
leled its behavior toward the IAEA inspectors, formally
correct but unhelpful. Taken together these attitudes sug-
gested that Iran had something to hide. Iran’s tendency to
seek to win every round of negotiations, manufacture
crises, renegotiate agreements, and redefine obligations
put tactics before strategy, weakening any advantage Iran
might have gained by the process of formal cooperation
with the IAEA and the EU-3.
• A certain narcissism (“how am I doing?”) is evident in
Iran’s approach to the world, leading to misjudgments
about other states’ likely reactions.
• In the end, negotiations reduced trust rather than built
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Iran’s Negotiating Strategy | 65

The evolving strategic context after 2003, however, gave Iran
reason for increasing self-confidence. Against the backdrop of
unwelcome revelations about the AQ Khan network and Libya’s
capitulation came the deterioration of the U.S. position in Iraq and
the resurfacing of the North Korea crisis, diverting resources away
from Iran. The rise of oil prices and the geopolitical sensitivity of
the region, giving Tehran the cushion of windfall revenues, also
increased Iran’s sense of its own leverage (not least with new con-
sumers India and China). Having spent over a decade of diplo-
macy depicting the denial of technology as a North–South issue,
Iran also expected support from the non-aligned countries in the
UN and IAEA.1 Iran believed that its intrinsic importance would
enable it to divide the EU–U.S. and Russia through native shrewd-
ness and skill, if necessary.
International negotiators have sought to force Iran to choose
between the full fuel cycle and confrontation. So far Iran’s policy
has been to push the door open as far as it can, without crossing the
threshold of actual conflict. Nonetheless, Iran feels more secure
and confident in 2006 than it did in 2002 and is thus willing to
take the initiative in rejecting a freeze on all enrichment activities
and more willing to risk confrontation.

Iran and the Negotiations

Once its undeclared activities were revealed, Tehran accepted inten-
sified inspections and signed the stiffer Additional Protocol, giving
inspectors increased access to sites.2 In acting to demonstrate its
good faith, Iran was seeking to reassure the international commu-
nity of its benign intentions and to “remove the pretext” for U.S.
aggression. Iran’s officials argued that they had only been guilty of
acts of omission (a failure to report activities), not the commission
of impermissible activities. In extenuation they argued that required
declarations had not been made because U.S. sanctions imposed
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66 | Iran’s Negotiating Strategy

much earlier would have been extended to those entities cooper-
ating with Iran, if such declarations had been made.3
To buy time to devise a strategy, Iran designated Hasan Rowhani,
the Secretary of the SNSC, the principal organ on security, as the
chief negotiator. This action effectively took the dossier away from
the Foreign Ministry and the AEO, which had dealt with it when
it had been a routine issue.4
Iran saw the crisis in autumn of 2003 as a possible pretext for
the United States “to carry out a new Iraq in Iran.”5 Iran sought a
way out and grasped the lifeline thrown by the EU-3 initiative in
the Tehran agreement. The scenario repeated itself in autumn 2004,
when Iran reacted again to its isolation and the ultimatum of the
IAEA, this time accepting the Paris agreement with the EU-3. (This
agreement essentially suspended enrichment-related activities as
well as enrichment itself.) Since then Iran has been trying to bal-
ance and reconcile access to the full fuel cycle and avoidance of an
international crisis. In not wishing to choose between the two, Iran
has often acted as if it wants to cheat—to be a party to the NPT but
not abide by all its rules and to claim its benefits but be ambiguous
about its responsibilities. As one reformist noted, Iran should either
accept or reject the NPT: “If we accept it, we should ... accept the
concomitant restrictions as well.”6 To bridge the gap between its
quest for technology development (that is, “not give up their
rights”), and its desire to avoid a crisis with the rest of the world,
Iranian negotiators accepted confidence-building measures, with
only mixed success.7
Iranian officials defended the EU-3 negotiations domestically
by noting that without them there would have been a crisis with the
Board of Governors (BoG) of the IAEA and “the great contracts
that Iran signed with their [IAEA] countries in the field of oil and
gas would have been impossible.”8 More broadly, Iran needed to
have “constructive and positive interaction” with the world for its
economic development. As chief negotiator Rowhani stated, “We
have no other choice. Causing other countries to have concerns
means closing the paths to interaction” and hence failing in devel-
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opment.9 The message was clear: Iran should not cause a crisis
over the issue of enrichment that would impair its overall develop-
ment prospects. As suggested earlier, this Rowhani/Rafsanjani view
is not universally shared, because some in Iran would prefer a cri-
sis, enabling them to make a point of principle and stopping inter-
action with others.10
Iran thus used the EU-3 channel to try to avoid making a stark
choice between the two goals, at least postponing the crisis while
probing to see what benefits it could extract in exchange for
renouncing the controversial technology. Iran’s leverage has been
limited, consisting of threats to resume enrichment and reminding
the EU-3 of their stake in a successful outcome and the dangers of
a breakdown.11 In an interview, Rowhani stated that “if the talks
break down and the issue goes to the Security Council, it will be a
great failure for Europe and multilateralism as a whole.”12 At the
same time, Iran was aware of the constraints on Europe, which
negotiated with the United States looking over its shoulder.13 Fur-
thermore, Iran was aware that little separated the EU-3, Russia, and
the United States on these issues—only differences in approach—
so there was little room for creating or exploiting division.14
Iranian negotiators have tried to show that their hands are tied
domestically. Therefore the red line of uranium enrichment is not
negotiable because it is the “national will and is the establishment’s
decision. Nobody can end it.” This implies that Iran cannot
renounce the right to it in principle and would have extreme diffi-
culty reducing its current capacity (for example, dismantling facili-
ties), although freezing it in place would be politically more
By cooperating with the IAEA, Iran wanted to puncture the
sense of crisis and close the special nature of the inspections and
cyclical periodic reporting and accounting to the IAEA Board of
Governors. These regular reports put Iran on notice, and both its
cooperation and progress on answering various questions relating
to its nuclear activities ensured continuous pressure on Tehran.
These periodic reports (eight between mid-2002 and October
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68 | Iran’s Negotiating Strategy

2005) ensured that Iran had to get its story straight or risk contra-
diction from technical analyses, environmental swipes, and infor-
mation from other sources.
In the course of these inspections, numerous anomalies, incon-
sistencies, and late or partial declarations were noted. Iran did not
declare Natanz enrichment, purchases from the AQ Khan network,
work on laser enrichment, or the most recent on plutonium. It also
left open questions about the source of highly enriched uranium,
whether and when Iran obtained and used P2 centrifuge technol-
ogy, and whether it bought weapons plans from the AQ Khan net-
work as the same time as Libya.
But despite these inspection problems, it is possible that late
declarations about activity in tunnels and air defense around
Natanz might have an innocent explanation, as might the contam-
ination of the imported P2 centrifuge from Pakistan. So, apart from
the noncompliance with safeguard obligations, there is little (that
is, no activity as such that is proscribed) with which Iran can be for-
mally charged. The smoking gun remains elusive.16

Negotiating Style and Confidence Building

Iran’s tactics have exacerbated problems of trust and reassurance.
The Tehran agreement with the EU-3 in October 2003 soon
became a subject of contention. With the United States embroiled
in Iraq, Tehran felt freer to harden its terms. Ostensibly because of
the failure of the EU-3 to close the nuclear dossier in the IAEA (an
unrealistic expectation given the number of unanswered and new
questions appearing almost daily), Iran threatened in March 2004
to begin testing its uranium production facility at Isfahan. Iran
argued that this facility had not been covered by the Tehran agree-
ment.17 Iran later announced its intention of resuming “the manu-
facture and assembly of components”18 while affirming interest in
continuing discussions for a long-term agreement with the EU-3.19
Iran also shrugged off the IAEA’s June 2004 report critical of Iran,
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calling for more proactive cooperation by Iran as well as asking Iran
to reconsider its heavy water and uranium conversion facility
(UCF) programs. Reflecting how disconnected Tehran was from
international realities, Iran responded: “We are not satisfied because
we believe this was the time to close the file.”20
Iran and the EU-3 came to a new agreement in November 2004
in Paris.21 Iran agreed to suspend all activities related to uranium
enrichment pending a final agreement. This resulted in the adop-
tion of a milder resolution in the IAEA the same month. This Paris
agreement, reached during the U.S. presidential elections, looked
for a more comprehensive solution, embedding the nuclear issue in
the broader political, economic, and security context and implying
U.S. involvement directly or indirectly.
Tehran’s negotiating style was again in evidence. To improve its
negotiating position, it sped up its uranium enrichment program
leading up to negotiations.22 Then, at the last minute, Iran insisted
that twenty centrifuges be excluded from the suspension, a move
that was rejected by the EU-3. Finally, the agreement was depicted
as a big victory, in which Iran “managed to defuse the threats
against [it] and to defend [its] rights.”23 Much the same pattern was
repeated in 2005. Iran again sought to expand the area of permis-
sible activity. In March it indicated it wanted to expand quality
control checks and maintenance of nonessential enrichment cen-
trifuge parts to essential centrifuge parts that had been sealed by the
IAEA under the suspension agreement. By May Iranian negotia-
tors told their EU-3 counterparts that their understanding was that
conversion of uranium to gas (preenrichment) does not amount to
enrichment and hence was not covered by the Paris agreement.
Resumption therefore was inevitable—only the date was uncer-
tain. This interpretation was not supported by the letter of the Paris
agreement, which specifically covered enrichment-related activity.
Faced with a solid EU-3 front and the threat of referral to UNSC,
Iran stepped back from the brink.24 Iran’s tendency to seek a foot
in the door by exempting some centrifuges or preenrichment was
now becoming a stop-and-go strategy that saw periodic crises and
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70 | Iran’s Negotiating Strategy

new agreements. The danger of this was that Iran might slice away
at understandings by proceeding with conversion before an inter-
national response and then agree to another suspension, in each
case advancing its program further without incurring a response.25
In essence this is what occurred after August 2005 when Tehran
resumed conversion while insisting on its continued interest in
The EU-3 concluded from this that Iran’s negotiating behavior
would need to be revised if progress were going to be made. Iran’s
negotiating style of reopening agreements, exploiting or ingen-
iously creating loopholes, manufacturing crises and deadlines, and
making last-minute demands is tactically impressive but strategi-
cally counterproductive.26 Together with tactics similar to those
used with the IAEA (delay, inconsistencies, half-truths, and grudg-
ing corrections), Iran has done little to increase either its popular-
ity in the UN or its credibility with its interlocutors. The result is
that the EU-3 is disinclined to give Iran the benefit of the doubt and
feels that Iran bears the burden of proof to assure the international
community of its peaceful intentions.
Iranian behavior has not been reassuring. For example, its nego-
tiators say, “We have one principle: for mass destruction weapons,
the basis is conventions, nothing more, nothing less,” or “We are
not bound to put forward solutions beyond what international reg-
ulations and IAEA safeguards require from us.”27 In light of this
record of obstructionism and legalistic nitpicking, Iran’s insistence
on reciprocity and nondiscrimination evokes little sympathy. Thus,
comments made to Japan TV by Deputy Head of the AEO Moham-
mad Saidi come across as petulant and self-serving: “The Japanese
have never shown us the pictures of their centrifuge machinery. If
they do we will show you ours.”28 While Iranians argue that the
objective of the negotiations was to create trust, not to suspend ura-
nium enrichment permanently, the way these negotiations have
been handled has only accentuated mistrust.29 Iran’s unwillingness
to suspend work on the heavy water reactor at Arak (suggested by
the IAEA) and its insistence on resuming centrifuge production in
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Iran’s Negotiating Strategy | 71

mid-2004 further eroded trust.30 From the view of the international
community, Iran has, in Javier Solana’s words, “a lot of ground to
make up” in building trust.31 Director-General Al Baradei, a neutral
figure, noted that the onus was on Iran: “In view of the past unde-
clared nature of significant aspects of Iran’s nuclear program, a con-
fidence deficit has been created, and it is therefore essential that
Iran works closely with the agency in a proactive manner.” Iran’s
restrictions on the inspections of Parchin, Kelayeh, and Lavizan fed
this distrust. It “chipped away at the confidence issue” and the legal-
istic approach “created needless suspicions.”32 The result was that
Russia joined the consensus on Iran’s suspicious behavior. The
French president too appeared exasperated with Iran.33
This question of trust, however, cuts both ways. Iran’s behavior
has managed to drive the EU-3, the IAEA, Russia, and many non-
aligned states closer to the United States, but Iran remains con-
vinced that compromise or weakness is self-defeating because the
United States will be unwilling “to take yes for an answer.”
Iran’s problematic reporting raises questions about its motives.
One explanation for its contradictory, grudging, and threatening
behavior is that it fears a true accounting of its past activities would
betray the fact that those activities breached the fundamental
injunction against acquiring nonexclusively peaceful nuclear know-
how and capability. Statements after the failure to give the right
dates for experimentation with plutonium—to the effect that the
activities were not the same as earlier reported—simply stretch
credulity.34 Iran’s activities delaying access to sites (2004), razing
the entire facilities at Lavizan (2004), initially barring access alto-
gether to Parchin (2005), and then refusing to answer questions are
inconsistent with any attempt to reassure the international commu-
nity about its program.35 Iran’s tactics match this obstructionism.
Dissatisfied with the wording of an IAEA resolution, which it con-
sidered too critical, Iran delayed a visit of the inspectors to Tehran,
explicitly linking the two.36 Later in 2004 as part of its brinksman-
ship with the EU on the question of suspension of enrichment and
possible referral of Iran’s case to the Security Council, Iranian offi-
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72 | Iran’s Negotiating Strategy

cials threatened to remove IAEA cameras at some sites and start a
series of steps commencing with the “nonratification” of the Addi-
tional Protocol that they had provisionally signed.37 Iran also tied
the timing of its ratification of the AP to the resumption of “full
operations” (that is, enrichment at Natanz). It is notable that Iran
uses its safeguards agreements and inspections explicitly as lever-
age, which implies that if pushed too far, Iran might cease cooper-
ation and leave the international community even further in the
dark about its programs and aims.
Iran’s record of deceptions leaves open the possibility that there
may in fact be less to the program than meets the eye.38 While
asserting inalienable rights and alleging conspiracies to deny it the
means for development, Iran has had to balance two considera-
tions: how to maintain (and develop) its nuclear program and how
to do so without creating an international consensus against it.39
This, together with domestic divisions, accounts for the schizo-
phrenic nature of Iran’s response.40
Iran’s periodic deadlines for ending the negotiations stem from
a basic asymmetry in the structure of the negotiations. Suspension
of enrichment activities was tied to the duration of the negotia-
tions, yet these were open-ended. As long as negotiations contin-
ued until July 2005, Iran’s enrichment program, including
conversion activities, was frozen by the Paris accords. Iran tried
unsuccessfully in the 2003–2005 period to narrow the areas cov-
ered by the term enrichment. Another tactic was Iran’s periodic
deadlines for “progress” and accusations of the EU-3 “dragging out”
the talks deliberately.41 Essentially Iran could end the negotiations
and be referred to the UNSC or try to resume enrichment while
continuing negotiations and risk being referred to the UNSC
(something the new government chose to do in August by resum-
ing conversion activities unilaterally).
Assuming the absence of a covert program, the total freeze on
enrichment proved painful. Salehi has observed that “the success of
the diplomatic authorities will depend on reducing the suspension
period.”42 AEO head Reza Aghazadeh noted the “imbalance in com-
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Iran’s Negotiating Strategy | 73

mitments,” saying that negotiations might last several years and
the freeze is “affecting the process of our activities.”43
The negotiations bought time for both sides. For the EU-3, it
was an opportunity to set into motion diplomacy that was lack-
ing, given the U.S. refusal to go beyond public threat. For Iran,
the EU-3 served as a buffer and intermediary. It is not to dispar-
age the potential importance of the EU as a strategic commercial
partner to note that in the final analysis, Iran would need to deal
with the United States.44 In judging success (at least until July
2005) one can agree with Rowhani that delaying the crisis is not
necessarily its avoidance: “If the danger is not removed com-
pletely, then one cannot label this delay a success, of course unless
in the end we sit down at the negotiations table with the first rate
power [United States].”45 The negotiations with the EU-3 were, in
effect, a holding action and a substitute for direct contacts with
the United States, which alone could provide the guarantees that
Iran seeks.
In its negotiations with the EU-3, Iran resorted to many of the
same tactics it used with the IAEA, including brinksmanship,
injured pride, and threats of open-ended crises. Iran sought to
establish the principle of the right to enrichment and to demonstrate
that this right is irreversible in that Iran has mastered the full fuel
cycle and cannot unlearn it, even if subjected to military strikes.46
Constructive ambiguity has led to differences on precisely how
enrichment is defined or what it constitutes and so enrichment has
been left to the IAEA to define. For Tehran the indispensable goal
has been recognition of the right to the full fuel cycle. To that end,
Iran has offered to voluntarily suspend enrichment (with the defi-
nitional uncertainty noted) for a limited time to enhance confi-
dence. For the EU-3 the aim has been to get Iran to commit to a
permanent cessation of all fuel cycle activities in exchange for a
package that would include proliferation-resistant nuclear tech-
nologies (light water reactors), guaranteed fuel supplies at reason-
able prices, security guarantees, and trade and diplomatic
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74 | Iran’s Negotiating Strategy

Iran has sought to depict its right to technology under Article IV
of the NPT as an issue for all developing countries, who would be
affected by any denial of Iran’s rights, thus jeopardizing the NPT
itself.47 However, Iran’s tactics have left it with few defenders among
the nonaligned states.48
Iran has also been unsure how to treat the EU countries. It rec-
ognizes the EU link with the United States but is uncertain how to
use this bridge, seeking to divide the EU-3 (and Russia) and even
the United States by dangling the enticing prospects of participa-
tion in Iran’s future economic and nuclear development.49 Iranian
officials have noted the EU’s stake in the success of the negotiations,
calling a possible failure a setback for the EU in specific and mul-
tilateralism in general. They have called on Europe to stand up
more to the United States. On the success of the negotiations, they
argue, hangs the future weight of Europe in international affairs.50
This attitude can spill over into Iran’s overestimation of its posi-
tion: “Politically the Europeans need us,” insisted negotiator Sirus
Nasseri. But there is a recognition of Iran’s stake in the outcome as
well. As Rowhani noted, “If we manage to succeed and finish this
issue, important ties with Europe will follow.”51 At the same time,
Iran threatened to go public with its own “reasonableness” in the
negotiations, should they reach an impasse.52
One part of the negotiations after November 2004 focused on
how to reassure the international community of Iran’s peaceful
intentions. Iran argued that this could be managed by monitors,
enhanced inspections, and the like but that it would not budge
from the use of the full fuel cycle. In light of their suspicions about
Iran’s aims, the EU-3 was convinced that the phrase objective guar-
antees (which figures in the Paris agreement of November 2004)
could have only one meaning: complete abstention from the fuel
cycle including the dismantling of existing facilities, especially at
Natanz and also the heavy water plant at Arak. Although technical
fixes are theoretically possible, they are not acceptable for the EU-
3 in this case. The necessary level of trust does not exist, and the
EU-3 is convinced that any level of activity could be used to shield
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Iran’s Negotiating Strategy | 75

a covert program. It also believes that any level of activity in any
agreement would soon be the subject of reopened negotiation by
Iran, which would creatively reinterpret it to its advantage. Cessa-
tion meaning no activity is thus much easier to monitor than some
activity. There is little likelihood that this will be acceptable to Iran.
Iran has little leeway domestically to forgo technology that has
been depicted as indispensable for its development. The EU-3
backed by the United States will find it difficult to accept Iran’s
access to the fuel cycle without very firm assurances.

Iran’s View of the U.S. Role in the Negotiations

Iran sees the United States today as an unpredictable power, “act-
ing first and thinking later.”53 In addition, Iran sees it as seeking
to internationalize its dispute with Tehran.54 Regarding the nego-
tiations, Iranians recognize that “the Europeans and the Agency
[IAEA] are what we see on the surface. The Americans are the
ones we really have to deal with” and that U.S. “help could be
positive from our point of view.”55 Nevertheless, Iran is unwilling
to deal with the United States because Tehran believes that enter-
ing any negotiations with the United States would be a trap in
which open-ended discussions would destabilize Iranian society
while U.S. manipulation of the media would make it impossible
for Iran to terminate them.56 Therefore an Iranian unwillingness to
engage without upfront concessions from the United States paral-
lels the U.S. approach. Iran sees U.S. pressure and hostility as
long-standing and not exclusively or principally tied to the nuclear
issue. Former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati articulated the
slippery slope argument against any concessions: “They are bully-
ing us and if we surrender and retreat in the face of blackmail, this
is in effect shutting down Iran as a country.”57 Iranian leaders
believe that the issue between the two countries goes beyond
access to particular technology, claiming that “nuclear technology
is only a pretext. If the Americans could not use this pretext, they
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76 | Iran’s Negotiating Strategy

would resort to other excuses such as support for terrorism and
violation of human rights.”58 They believe that even if Iran adhered
to the AP and resolved its problems with the IAEA, U.S. pressure
would continue.59 A similar view is reflected in Iran’s hesitancy
about giving access to military sites (not covered by the AP)—that
allowing access to military sites would constitute the thin end of
the wedge to open-ended inspections of all sites.60 Army Com-
mander Mohammed Salimi was in no doubt about U.S. aims: “The
enemies of Iran are bent on changing the regime in Iran as they
had in the eastern and western states.”61 Iranian diplomats insisted
that negotiations could not precede a policy change by the United
States: “A country that expresses an interest in negotiations can not
at the same time talk of regime change.”62 Ultimately, Iran’s nego-
tiations with the EU-3 (with the United States present but not vis-
ible) hinges on trust between both Iran and the EU-3 as well as
Iran and the United States. But as has been noted repeatedly, Iran’s
behavior and negotiating style have not been conducive to build-
ing that trust and may even have eroded it.63 The U.S. aims in Iran
remain opaque at best, giving Iran little reassurance that compro-
mise would be rewarded or alter ultimate U.S. aims of regime
It is clear that Iran does not want to follow the path of Libya in
its relations with the United States. Rowhani observed trenchantly
that the Libyan model “does not mean that they would only assem-
ble all their centrifuges and put them on a ship and send them to
Washington. The Libyan model means following the path of recog-
nizing Israel, means [cutting] off relations with liberation move-
ments in the world....”65 For Iran to embrace the Libyan model
then is for Iran to cease seeking to be an Islamic revolutionary role
model and to relinquish its aspirations for regional leadership.
The notion of a slippery slope inhibits any Iranian concession.
Tehran is convinced that granting concessions is the thin end of the
wedge for the United States to multiply its demands. Given the
mutual distrust and lack of flexibility, reliance on relative bargain-
ing position and overall power is bound to take priority.
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Iran’s Negotiating Strategy | 77

Iran’s negotiating behavior changed in mid-2005. During the
2003–2004 period, Iran intended to buy time and deflect an attack
by showing a cooperative spirit and using a moderate tone, but by
mid-2005 Tehran had adopted a more militant and confrontational
approach. A new ultranationalist government and swollen oil rev-
enues together with Iran’s sense that the United States and the EU
had become distracted and weakened had turned the tide. Accord-
ingly, Iran believed it could take a tougher line and did so by reject-
ing the EU-3 package offered in late July as insufficient and
resuming conversion activities. Iran also stepped up its campaign
to depict the U.S.–EU line on forbidding enrichment as an
encroachment on the rights of NPT members—an argument that
resonates with Brazil and other nonaligned states. By leveraging
the tighter oil market, Iran sought to induce key states such as
India and China to consider the advantages of cooperation with
Iran’s resumption of conversion in August 2005 ended the nego-
tiations with the EU-3, which considered conversion termination
a precondition for further discussions. Two IAEA resolutions in
September did little to change Tehran’s position. The second reso-
lution (September 24, 2005) threatened eventual referral to the
Security Council for “noncompliance” but gave a mixed message in
that it was adopted by vote rather than consensus. Iran intensified
its diplomacy especially with the nonaligned states, hoping to pre-
vent such a referral. Iran has offered international participation in
its nuclear program, but the precise meaning of this offer is
unclear.67 Tehran has sought to widen the negotiations to include
the nonaligned and other members of the IAEA board rather than
limit them to the EU-3. Iran also increased its cooperation with the
IAEA in October by granting access to Parchin and allowing inter-
views with some officials. Iran indicated its willingness to resume
negotiations with the EU-3 “without preconditions” (that is, with-
out prejudice to its continuing conversion activities).
Iran’s harder line reflected a new ultranationalism in Tehran
among some elements, including President Ahmadinejad. This
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78 | Iran’s Negotiating Strategy

hard-line stance is evident in the tougher diplomatic policy and the
more reckless rhetoric. Ahmadinejad’s speech on the UN’s sixtieth
anniversary and his statement in Tehran on Qods (Jerusalem Day)
that Israel should be “wiped off the map” reflected insensitivity to
international opinion and diplomacy, going beyond a toughening
of terms. It is doubtful whether either of these speeches gained
Iran any new votes. Advocating the elimination of another state also
did little to dampen concerns about the implications of Iran’s
nuclear ambitions.68
The IAEA Board of Governors meeting of November 24, though
calmer, was another step on the road to Iran’s referral to the Secu-
rity Council. Iran invested hopes in divisions between Europe and
the United States and the nonaligned movement (NAM). Iran also
resorted to the usual threats: suspending cooperation with the
agency on inspections and the “voluntary implementation” of the
Additional Protocol and invoking a Majles bill requiring suspension
in the event of referral. Al Baradei’s report on Iran’s compliance
was mixed, showing some progress but pointing to continued
unanswered questions. This meeting left open the next phase but
showed considerable support for the resumption of negotiations
with the EU-3, with the precondition of Iran halting enrichment-
related activity. But Iran showed no signs of recognizing this in the
December Vienna meeting with the EU-3, which was intended to
discover whether there was any basis for a resumption of negotia-
tions cut off since August. The only prospect was in the Russian
proposal backed by the EU-3, but Iran’s position toward this pro-
posal appeared equivocal, neither embracing nor rejecting it, but
playing for time.
On January 3, 2006, Iran announced the resumption of
research on enrichment, meaning small-scale experimentation and
development of a pilot project. Tehran followed this up with the
repeated threat to end voluntary cooperation with the agency in
the event of referral and to move to full, industrial-scale enrich-
ment (for which there is no evidence that Iran can actually accom-
plish technologically).69
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Iran sought but failed to get the Organization of Petroleum
Exporting Countries (OPEC) to agree to production cuts that would
increase its leverage on threats to cut off its oil supplies.70 Playing on
the IAEA’s fears that Iran might leave it blind as to inspections, Iran
sent a formal letter to the IAEA on February 2 noting that political
pressures and threats of reporting Iran to the Security Council
would lead Iran to “suspend all the voluntary measures and extra
cooperation with the Agency that have so far” been in effect.
Iran was still surprised to see that the IAEA Board vote later that
month on February 24 was convincingly in favor of reporting Iran
to the Security Council (27:3 with 5 abstentions), leaving the pre-
cise date for decision after the Director-General’s report on March
6. The threats of noncooperation and burying the Russian proposal
appeared to have backfired. Iran’s faith in support from Russia and
China had proven to be, in Rowhani’s critical assessment, a
Iran pressed ahead regardless of the fact that it was digging itself
a deeper hole by immediately declaring the resumption of enrich-
ment activities and the limitation of cooperation with the agency.
At the same time, its ambiguity toward the Russian proposal con-
tinued in various meetings. Iran’s bottom line was encouragement
of international cooperation in enrichment abroad, but not at the
price of transferring enrichment out of the country. Iran’s threat to
move to enrichment from the current limited 164-centrifuge capa-
bility to an industrial scale appeared to be yet another bluff. Iranian
officials admitted that they needed time “before 60,000 centrifuges
could be operational.”72 (Al Baradei’s report for the March meeting
noted that Iran was testing centrifuges and had plans to begin
installation of the first of 3,000 centrifuges later in 2006.) The Iran-
ian position appeared to be in disarray as well, with the president
threatening withdrawal from the NPT only to be contradicted by
the Foreign Ministry.73 A last-minute attempt to keep the diplo-
matic option alive came on the eve of the March Board of Gover-
nors meeting. Larijani sought, without success, to convince the
Europeans to accept small-scale enrichment in Iran for an indefi-
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80 | Iran’s Negotiating Strategy

nite period, with a freeze on larger-scale activity for a period over
which the sides would build confidence.74
Iran approached negotiations as a contest of wills rather than an
opportunity to reach common ground through reciprocal compro-
mise. By elevating differences into issues of principle (justice, rights,
and equity), Iran made them nonnegotiable. A rhetorical emphasis
on the legal nature of the dispute only served to blind Iran to the
political nature of the problem and to convince it that it is, again,
the victim.75
But true to form and Iran’s particular brand of self-deception, the
threat of referral did not check its rhetoric. According to one SNSC
official, the referral of Iran to the Security Council is “not the end
of the story but the beginning of a new chapter.”76 This tendency
toward self-deception stems from Iran’s rapt self-absorption and
its tendency to convince only itself with its rhetoric. Self-deception
accounts for its misjudgment about others’ reactions, its overesti-
mation of its own importance, and its miscalculation about the
impact of its various threats. Iran has dissembled, stonewalled, and
obfuscated in its dealings with the IAEA in respect to information
and access. With the EU, it has cajoled and scorned, threatened and
pleaded, and reopened or reinterpreted agreements. Far from
reducing opacity, Tehran has played on ambiguity about its inten-
tions and about the scope of its program. Inside and outside the
negotiations Iran has shown a proclivity for brinksmanship and
managed crises. Consistent with its behavior as a spoiler, Iran has
threatened destabilizing linkages. In the event of referral, Iran has
threatened in recent months to cut off oil supplies, to interrupt oil
shipments, to aggravate regional instability, to end inspections and
cooperation with the IAEA altogether (including application of the
Additional Protocol), to resume enrichment, and, more ambigu-
ously, to withdraw from the NPT itself.77 None of this is calculated
to reassure other states about Iran’s behavior if it had a nuclear
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The International Response

espite initial differences, the United States, the EU-3, and the
D IAEA all agree on the need to prevent the emergence of a
nuclear Iran. The differences, which have been on the best way to
accomplish this goal, have not posed an obstacle to policies, which
have been largely mutually reinforcing. U.S. pressure has energized
the IAEA, and the threat of Iran’s referral to the UNSC has increased
the IAEA’s leverage on Tehran. The agency’s prominent role as an
international institution has made its medicine more palatable
politically for Tehran (and Russia and China) and defused any
notion that the issue is primarily a U.S.–Iran feud. The IAEA has
lent its weight to buttress the EU-3 initiatives, while the latter has
acted as a “good cop” to the United States’ “bad cop,” offering
incentives and dialogue to temper U.S. threats and sanctions.
In assessing the success of the international community in the
Iran arena, it is important to underline criteria for comparison and
continuing uncertainties as to ultimate outcomes. The United
States, critical of the IAEA’s failure to quickly and unequivocally
condemn Iran, showed ambivalence about the EU-3 diplomatic
initiatives. The IAEA and the EU-3 in turn considered the U.S.
response of quick referral to the UNSC as premature and probably
counterproductive. The cases of Iraq and North Korea may be

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instructive about the chances of success in the approaches in Iran.
Overreaction in 2003, following initial underestimation of Iraq’s
WMD program (1990-1991) has weakened the case for muscular
responses divorced from international consensus. North Korea is a
testimony to the ineffectuality of the UNSC in a clearcut case of
noncompliance.1 Why would Iran’s more ambiguous case yield
greater success in the UNSC? Would a referral, possibly followed by
a condemnation and sanctions, be more successful in freezing or
reversing Iran’s program than the diplomatic route? And could it be
contemplated realistically without first exhausting the diplomatic
The IAEA had its own reasons for pursuing a policy of “steady
engagement and robust” inspections: to deal with the first serious
case of non-proliferation after Iraq (and North Korea) and to
demonstrate (and test) the value of the Additional Protocol. 2 The
EU-3, too, had its own motives: to deal with an important issue of
international security, to demonstrate the benefits of multilateralism
and the 2003 EU security strategy in action, and to prevent a recur-
rence of the transatlantic rift that had appeared over Iraq.
U.S. concerns about Iran’s proliferation fluctuated between an
inclination to deal decisively with an emerging regional threat and
the reality of military and diplomatic constraints on a unilateral
solution. Reluctantly the United States supported the EU’s diplo-
matic approach, unpersuaded that it would be successful. At the
same time the U.S. position was weakened by a lack of clarity about
its goals, which wavered between non-proliferation and regime
change. The incoherence in U.S. policy did little to convince Rus-
sia (and by extension China) of the wisdom of following its lead.

U.S. Approach

After 9/11 the United States intensified its concentration on rogue
states, which led to a change in U.S. non-proliferation policy. Prior-
ity shifted from a focus on the spread of weapons technology to the
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identity of states seeking weapons of mass destruction (that is, pro-
liferation now became a problem not of weapons but particular
states or regimes).3 This shift entailed a downgrading of the impor-
tance of the NPT regime (the instrument for dealing with prolifer-
ation in general), viewing it as ill-suited for dealing with the serious
cases of proliferation. This in turn led to a diminution of the
reliance on international instruments and diplomacy and an
increased emphasis on a unilateral posture (2002-2005).
Later the emphasis shifted back to diplomacy, but the focus on
the nature of the regime in question has persisted. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice gave the philosophical underpinning of the
administration’s policy shift, stating that “the fundamental character
of regimes matters more today than the international distribution of
power ... democracy is the only assurance of lasting peace and secu-
rity between states, because it is the only guarantee of freedom and
justice within states.”4 One feature of democracies is openness, while
other systems are opaque. President Bush has emphasized this
aspect of democracy in relation to Iran, warning that “a non-
transparent society that is the world’s premier sponsor of terror can-
not be allowed to possess the world’s most dangerous weapons.”5
In the case of Iran, the issue is not simply confined to that state’s
opaqueness and nuclear ambitions but extends to its challenge to
the U.S.-dominated regional order. Iran’s quest for a nuclear capa-
bility magnifies that challenge, which seeks to substitute Iran’s rev-
olutionary Islamic model, with Iran in a dominant position, for
that of the U.S. model. U.S. officials underlined this broader con-
text to Congress, with Rice calling Iran “destabilizing” and the
“biggest strategic challenge,” observing that “no one wants to see a
Middle East that is dominated by an Iranian hegemony, particularly
one that has nuclear technology.” In answer to questions on this
issue, the secretary noted that “Iran is pursuing policies in the Mid-
dle East that are, if not 180, 170 degrees counter to the kind of
Middle East that we would build.”6
Iran uses terrorism, anti-Americanism, and instability (in Iraq
and elsewhere) to promote its preferred regional order. The nuclear
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issue is thus one of several issues of contention between the two
states, which necessitates that U.S. policy consider the nuclear issue
in this overall context. Consistent with the belief that the regime
itself as much as its policies are the problem, the United States has
widened the stakes. President Bush’s 2006 State of the Union
address again focused on a policy of “ending tyranny in the world.”
In Iran’s case, a specific distinction was made between nation and
regime, with President Bush describing Iran as “a nation held
hostage by a small clerical elite that is isolating and repressing its
people.” Care was taken to show respect for the Iranian people and
their democratic aspirations—a distinction echoed by Vice Presi-
dent Richard Cheney and Under Secretary of State for Political
Affairs Nicholas Burns, who both emphasized the gulf between the
regime and the people.7
Acting on this premise, the United States has increased its invest-
ment in democracy promotion in Iran. A special office for Iranian
affairs has been set up, with more broadcasting, scholarships, and
support for Iranian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and
increased funding ($75 million extra). Intended to encourage the
development of an opposition within Iran, the basic policy aim is
clearly regime change. Whether the funds or the means are ade-
quate for the task, however, is another matter.8
In principle the United States has five broad, overlapping
choices in its policy response to Iran:
1. Prevention , through sanctions, export controls, denial
strategies, and interceptions that seek to impose a cost on
the continuation of the program and to delay it.
2. Containment and freezing the program at a certain level,
which implies living with some level of capability though
limiting its growth but dealing with it through some com-
bination of deterrence and defense.
3. Rollback or reversal, which implies a decision to prevent
the emergence of a capability through its coercive elimina-
tion. This response could have military elements (strikes,
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invasion, as in the case of Iraq in 1981 and 2003) and a
political dimension, covered by the term regime change.
Regime change may or may not lead to a reversal of poli-
cies, but policy reversals do not need regime change, as
Libya in 2003 and South Africa in 1990 demonstrate.
4. Regime change, which entails the removal of the regime
by force on the model of U.S intervention in Iraq. How
effective an instrument of non-proliferation this can be
over time is uncertain.
5. Co-option, accepting the inevitable and trying to influence
safety, security of materials, doctrine, and commerce.

There are drawbacks associated with all five approaches. Preven-
tion was the strategy attempted by the United States throughout the
1990s. But because of globalization, the seepage of knowledge and
technology, the emergence of nuclear “grey markets,” the coopera-
tion among pariah states, and the reluctance of some nuclear
weapons states (notably China until the late 1990s), the most that
can be hoped for is delay. Eventually the question reemerges: What
to do about it? Containment is similar to co-option but at a differ-
ent stage of nuclear technology. Both imply acceptance of some
level of capability, but containment attempts to deny a proliferator
any strategic benefit from its capability and to ensure no further
progress (with the possibility of a reversal in the future). Contain-
ment is a policy choice in parallel with prevention or when preven-
tion fails. Co-option attempts to minimize the damage for future
proliferation or instability (for example, living with a nuclear Iran
is something that must be prepared for but not advertised).

Assessment of U.S. Response

U.S. policy has not been as coherent or as focused as the strategic
stakes might dictate. U.S. policy toward Iran today consists of a
combination of elements: continuing efforts at prevention, moves
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toward containment, and some consideration of rollback or rever-
sal through regime change or policy change.
To this end, the United States has used multilateral institutions
fitfully and erratically. Washington managed to have the UN pass a
resolution requiring states to enact national legislation to imple-
ment the NPT and prevent materials from falling into the hands of
terrorists. By getting states to take national responsibility for inter-
national commitments, UNSC Resolution 1540 was a landmark in
dealing with the possible access to nuclear materials by terrorists.
Another success outside of the UN is the Proliferation Security
Initiative (PSI) launched by the United States, with bilateral agree-
ments now concluded with over sixty states. This initiative, face-
tiously labeled “an activity, not an institution,” seeks to ensure
enforcement of non-proliferation agreements by intercepting sen-
sitive and illegal cargos at sea. As the number of members partici-
pating increases, the need to make it consistent with international
law becomes more evident.9 At present interceptions can only take
place on the high seas (as opposed to territorial waters).
An administration that sees regimes, not weapons, as the prob-
lem tends to focus on individual states, not the multilateral mecha-
nisms to constrain them—a point that is confirmed by the U.S.
failure to use the NPT Review Conference of May 2005 effectively.
The relatively low-level representation in the U.S. delegation
reflected the degree of U.S. interest in the process. Instead of focus-
ing on the lacunae in the NPT, the United States sought to brand
Iran (and North Korea) as noncompliant.10 In a speech in 2004
President Bush suggested that no additional states should be allowed
to enrich uranium, in effective freezing the line at those who could
already do so (Germany, Japan).11 This position was aimed at Iran
and North Korea but was opposed by Brazil, among others. For
success, the review conference would have needed more give-and-
take reflecting the NPT’s “grand bargain.” The United States refused
to fashion its diplomacy accordingly or to define what Iran should
or should not be allowed to do as encapsulating the broader chal-
lenges facing the treaty.12 The United States failed to use the review
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conference to strengthen the norm against proliferation. Though it
claimed to be speaking for a strong international consensus in what
was generally considered a debacle of diplomacy, the United States
also failed to get a tough statement from the P-5 countries that could
be built on to pressure Tehran on future referral to the Security
Council.13 The United States allowed Iran to define the issue as one
of technology denial rather than noncompliance.
In more restricted gatherings such as the annual G-8 meetings,
U.S. diplomacy has been more effective in getting strong statements
opposing Iran’s deceptions and nuclear ambitions, but whether
these are translated into support for strong measures in the UNSC
is another matter.14 Such declarations, however, are useful in rein-
forcing the international dimensions of the issues raised by Iran and
continuing public exposure and pressure on Iran.15
In its prevention strategy the United States has long concentrated
on unilateral (including secondary) sanctions. Since the mid-1980s
sanctions were imposed for terrorism, which were increased in the
late 1980s and supplemented by the 1996 Iran–Libya Sanctions Act
(ILSA) that forbids foreign investment above $20 million per year
in the energy sector and the Iran–Iraq Arms Non-Proliferation Act
(P.L. 102-484) banning dual-use items. The United States has
imposed secondary sanctions on companies and countries (includ-
ing China and Russia) that trade or invest in Iran. These secondary
sanctions deter most companies that trade with the United States
and have certainly discouraged investment in Iran’s oil sector by
Japan and others. Several measures strengthening these existing
measures are before the U.S. Congress, including the Ros-Lehtinen
bill that would fund Iranian opposition groups.16 In July 2005 the
United States threatened to seize all U.S. assets of any foreign com-
pany that provides or attempts to provide financial, material, tech-
nological, or other support to Iran’s AEO.17
This array of sanctions has imposed an economic cost on Iran
and has clearly hurt the Iranian oil industry, which has been unable
to develop or modernize with indigenous capital and technology
alone. Black market prices in Iran are exorbitant, the goods lack
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manufacturers’ guarantees, and there is a premium on deception
and evasion of sanctions through front companies, false invoices,
and the like. Sanctions may have delayed Iran’s nuclear program as
well, because they have cast a wide net with their ban on dual-use
technology. However, in being forced to develop indigenous
nuclear technology, Iran has nativized the technology and has come
close to the mastery of the fuel cycle even in the face of two decades
of U.S. and other sanctions. U.S. sanctions, therefore, might have
been more effective had they been international (as was the case
with Libya).18 Largely punitive, they remain of symbolic impor-
tance today because Iran’s nuclear program has nearly reached the
point of no return. It is no wonder that President Bush observed in
December 2004 that the United States was “all sanctioned out” in
respect to Iran.19
The Libyan case suggests that effective sanctions may encourage
regime evolution, because they cause proliferators to reconsider
the costs and benefits of a particular course. For Libya, UN sanctions
bit over time and affected the regime’s cost calculus. In addition, the
United States was willing to accept a change in regime policy rather
than hold out for a change of regime itself.
In the case of Iran, however, the bilateral sanctions have been
painful but not unbearable. Iranians have tended to see the nuclear
issue as a pretext and U.S. hostility as general and open ended, with
each demand likely to generate another, eventually culminating in
regime change. Nor has the United States offered Iran the kind of
inducements it did to Libya.
In addition, the United States has not been willing to take yes for
an answer in the case of Iran, because distrust and ideology have
forced the United States to an all-or-nothing approach. Regime
change has dominated U.S. policy until very recently (2002-2006),
although there are now some signs that this may be changing.
If U.S. sanctions alone are not likely to arrest Iran’s nuclear pro-
gram, what other means of prevention, containment, or better still
reversal are there? Short of regime change there is the possibility
that the regime could be prevailed upon to reconsider its policies
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as a result of domestic and international pressure. Convincing
demonstration that there will be no benefits coming from a nuclear
capability (which will be offset militarily) and that the costs (sanc-
tions, regional exclusion, condemnation) will remain high is one
way. Imposing economic costs could stimulate a domestic debate in
Iran about the wisdom of continuing on a collision course with the
West. The United States and Europe have done a poor job of stim-
ulating such a debate and making clear that the issue is not denial
of technology in general but objection to the regime as such and
opposition to specific policies.20
Offering inducements as well as ending sanctions would help.
Strengthening the incentives for states not to rely on nuclear
weapons seems self-evident.21 Far from rewarding proliferation,
inducements are a means of making renunciation of technology
more palatable. The United States has resisted this approach, how-
ever, as evidenced by John Bolton’s comment: “I don’t do carrots.”22
Engagement, never the preferred choice, has also failed. Iran’s
rebuff of the Clinton administration’s overtures was followed by
9/11. In this new context, especially after Afghanistan, Iran was
confronted by U.S. power next door. Cooperation in that war might
have led to more formal discussions, but it was aborted by the dis-
covery of a shipment of Iranian arms destined for Palestinians fight-
ing Israel. After the Karine A affair in December 2001, the United
States promoted Iran into the axis of evil. Tehran’s fear that the
United States might target Iran next led it to a more accommodat-
ing posture, including discussion of a possible grand bargain. But
direct discussions in Geneva in May 2003 were again torpedoed,
this time because of revelations that Iran was hosting Al Qaeda ele-
ments.23 Ironically, this was a lost opportunity when everything
would have been on the table because Iranian leaders sensed a real
threat to the regime and were willing to negotiate when the United
States enjoyed maximum leverage.24 By the autumn of 2003, how-
ever, Tehran sensed that the U.S. military threat had subsided
because the United States was bogged down in Iraq, thus lessening
the incentive for Iran to make far-reaching concessions.
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From 2003 to 2005, U.S. policy toward Iran was incoherent,
characterized by attitude and posturing, giving voice to its ideology,
and intended to appease its conservative supporters. From mid-
2003 the United States resorted to reliance on regime change,
encouraging student demonstrations and giving declaratory sup-
port to opponents of the regime and reformers. This theme—that
the United States could not deal with an unrepresentative and
repressive government—continues. Focus on the regime’s tyranny,
its loathsome human rights record, and its controlled elections is a
constant refrain.25 More concrete assistance through radio broad-
casts and support of activists, NGOs, and unions under consider-
ation in 2005 is now policy. 26 The election of hard-liner Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad as president in June 2005 served to confirm Wash-
ington’s skepticism about any form of engagement strategy.27
U.S. policy toward Iran is characterized by a special antipathy
going beyond distrust or the legacy of past events such as the
hostage crisis and Beirut bombings. For a certain category of Amer-
icans, Iran is the very embodiment of evil, more so than North
Korea or even Iraq, which may be explained by Iran’s opposition to
Israel, the regime’s shifty behavior, or the lack of a domestic con-
stituency or congressional support in the United States.28 Ulti-
mately, the United States has had less difficulty in supporting
diplomacy with Pyongyang than with Tehran, and the gap between
rhetoric and worked out policy is noticeable with regard to Iran.29
U.S. policy weakness, in part, can be attributed to rivalries
within the U.S. administration, which saw expression in simulta-
neous calls for regime change and negotiations. Senator Richard
Lugar (R-IN) alluded to these divisions evident in policy toward
North Korea and Iran in criticizing the “ambiguity that was neither
constructive nor intended.”30 Behind his concerns were serious
issues: Could Iran be brought around to renounce nuclear capabil-
ities through a combination of diplomacy and threats? How durable
or reliable would such an agreement be? Would not the act of direct
negotiations (and possible agreement) confer legitimacy on the
“repressive theocracy,” which would be a repudiation of the kind of
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Middle East that the United States was now seeking? Would it be
a betrayal of Iran’s democratic opposition?31 Some politicians such
as Senator John McCain (R-AZ) preferred “rogue state rollback,”
while neoconservatives still argued that “only democracy in Iran
will finally solve the nuclear and terrorist problems.”32
By the end of 2004, U.S. policy had hit a brick wall. Unable to
count on regime change in time to affect the nuclear program, with
little prospect that unilateral sanctions could be tightened much
further, and unwilling to engage Iran directly, the United States
had to reconsider its policy. 33 Instead of being “an excited
bystander,” the United States needed to get involved more
directly.34 By default, this meant supporting the EU-3 initiative,
which Washington embraced skeptically and conditionally in
March 2005.
The U.S. approach during the 2003–2005 period consisted of
attempts to get the IAEA to refer Iran to the UNSC for its various
failings and deceptions. But there is little indication that the United
States had prepared the diplomatic groundwork for a successful
application of sanctions if the matter were taken to that body. Even
more problematic was the U.S. insistence on its certain knowledge
that Iran had a nuclear weapons program, something the IAEA was
unable to confirm. Given doubts about U.S. intelligence, even
friendly states gave priority to seeing whether a diplomatic solution
was possible before referring the issue to the UNSC.35
Another consideration for the United States was the unhappy
experience with the 1994 Korean Agreed Framework. The United
States now insisted that any agreement be “complete, verifiable,
and irreversible,” a formula it adapted to the case of Iran. Therefore,
the United States equated permanent cessation and objective guar-
antees and refused to countenance any, even token, amounts of
enrichment. Moreover, the U.S. decision to embrace diplomacy
was hedged. While there was a need for a common front, especially
after Iraq, the United States still saw the Europeans as “wobbly,” and
the EU, in turn, saw Washington as too unilateralist. So the U.S.
aim in agreeing to support the initiative was to stiffen the EU-3
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resolve and ensure that the terms of any agreement were clear and
rigorous. The United States was particularly concerned to ensure
that having committed to diplomacy, the EU-3 also committed to
follow through with sanctions and referral to the UNSC in the
event of diplomatic failure.36
The United States and the EU-3 easily came to an agreement on
what to ask of Iran: complete and permanent cessation of its fuel
cycle activities as the only basis for confidence that technology
would not be diverted to weapons uses.37 However, how this would
be implemented and inspected and, if Iran refused, what would
constitute the trigger for referral to the Security Council remained
to be defined. More important from the EU-3 perspective was the
need for the United States to be involved in the incentive as well as
the punishment side of the package.
Although the United States showed a willingness to make sym-
bolic gestures by lifting objections to World Trade Organization
(WTO) membership and to the supply of civilian aircraft parts,
Washington was unwilling to consider the kind of comprehensive
package that the Europeans considered necessary if Iran were to be
convinced to forgo nuclear technology.38 Such an agreement would
have to include security assurances, inclusion of Iran in a regional
security structure, as well as economic and technology assistance.
Europeans emphasized the need to acknowledge Iran’s “legitimate
security concerns,” whereas the United States was keen to be con-
vinced that the Europeans and others were prepared to take the
proliferation threat seriously enough to take “risks and make any
sacrifices to avert it.”39
The United States and Europe both see diplomacy as a necessary
first step if the matter is to be settled by coercion, but there is a dif-
ference of nuance between the two: The Europeans are less focused
on the nature of Iran’s regime and would prefer the diplomacy to
“succeed,” and the United States is not.40 Thus, while the allies
agree on what to demand of Iran, there is still much room for divi-
sion and disunity in their positions. Although these divisions were
largely narrowed after Iran hardened its approach in mid-2005,
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the issue of sanctions (and military strikes) and the refusal of the
United States to contribute to an incentives package could see divi-
sions resurface and widen again.
The United States no longer insists that Iran has no need for any
nuclear energy (that is, that the reactor in Bushire, due to come on-
stream in 2006-2007, should be dismantled). The official position
announced by President Bush in 2003 is that the United States
“will not tolerate the construction of a nuclear weapon.” More
recently, the reference has been broadened to the intolerability of a
“weapons capability,” suggesting opposition to any activity that
involves sensitive technologies that could be diverted to weapons
uses.41 The latest formulation is that “a process which permits Iran
to develop nuclear weapons is unacceptable.”42
After Iran’s rejection of the EU-3 package in mid-2005, the
United States did in fact become more involved. President Bush
emphasized U.S. support for the EU-3’s “lead” in a diplomatic solu-
tion. The U.S. switch to support for diplomacy and support for the
March 2005 EU-3 initiative implied a recognition of the trade-off
between obtaining a broad international consensus and the need
for haste. A graduated, deliberate approach that took along all the
major powers was preferable to a rush to judgment that left many
unconvinced.43 The U.S. shift was aided by two factors in mid-
2005. First, the administration still had not clarified its Iran policy
in a convincing way, split as it was between those who emphatically
rejected dealing with the “mullahs’ regime” and those who saw the
risks of proliferation as requiring a workable policy. For those advo-
cating regime change, it was important to demonstrate that there
remained time for this (and a sanctions) policy to be viable, which
may have accounted for the “new intelligence estimate” in August
2005 that assessed Iran to be technologically further away from a
nuclear weapon than many had assumed.44 Second, the arrival of
Ahmadinejad and his behavior made the argument that Iran was an
“irresponsible” state easier, facilitating a broader coalition.
Making up for lost time, the United States invested more effort
in diplomacy from September 2005 on by intensively lobbying key
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states including India, Russia, and China. None of these states ini-
tially supported Iran’s referral to the UN, absent a major new trans-
gression, preferring a settlement within the IAEA (Iran’s resumption
of enrichment under the label of “research” in January 2006
changed this).45 Washington sought to counter the idea that the
nuclear issue is a continuation of a feud with Tehran, labeling Iran’s
nuclear ambitions a “global menace” and a “universal” interest to
prevent it.46
U.S. diplomacy has also benefited from the sense abroad that the
military option, however unattractive, was by no means unthink-
able even if the image of a trigger-happy United States gave allies
pause. The official formulation that all options are on the table has
been consciously repeated.47 The military option has been made
more credible by domestic polls in the United States that indicate
considerable public support for both sanctions and military strikes
against Iran.48 The veiled threat of recourse to a military option if
diplomacy is not seriously attempted has spurred Russia and China
to action. Though averse to the change in forum from the IAEA to
the Security Council (and to sanctions), these two states have reluc-
tantly agreed to referral in order to brake any momentum and pre-
vent giving the United States the pretext for unilateral action.
While seeking to maintain pressure on Tehran, first with IAEA
resolutions threatening action in the Security Council and now
with the threat of sanctions in that body, the United States still
shows reluctance about getting directly involved. This reluctance
may be due to the press of other events, or it may be the inability
to hammer out a clear policy acceptable to all elements within the
administration.49 Therefore, there is a decided policy preference
for the more general approaches of regime change and Security
Council referral and sanctions.
Washington still lacks a convincing answer to the question of
what happens after referral. Certainly, a Security Council condem-
nation of Iran as an internationally certified pariah would in itself
be a serious sanction that would hurt the regime domestically. Mul-
tilateral sanctions, even if not mandatory or universally applied,
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would impose more costs on Tehran, which may buy time for
reconsideration since the nuclear program may not be as far
advanced as Iranians claim.
To summarize, then, the Bush administration has had no agreed,
clear, or consistent Iran policy. The U.S. stance has evolved unac-
knowledged from a policy of regime change along the Iraqi model
to policy change along the Libyan model. Its position on nuclear
technology has a similar evolution from no nuclear technology to
some as long as it is not sensitive. Similarly, from initially disparag-
ing diplomacy, Washington now relies on it for international sup-
port. The Bush administration has insisted that a nuclear-capable
Iran is unacceptable and has kept the military option in play, resist-
ing any direct diplomatic discussions on this issue. Constrained by
its ideologues from diplomacy, the administration has been unable
to test Iranian intentions. The result is a stance that reflects a set of
attitudes rather than a considered policy that holds diplomacy
hostage to ideology, and that reduces U.S. options accordingly.
It is clear that after a series of missteps the United States is deter-
mined to prevent Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. It has now
settled on a method that takes its allies and P-5 with it and stands
a better chance of increasing the pressure on Iran. Multilateral
diplomacy may result either in Iran’s acquiescence in the terms
offered or eventually in the imposition of sanctions by a coalition
of the willing or through the Security Council.

IAEA Approach

The IAEA labors under several inherent constraints in its mission.
First, the agency has a twin mandate—to verify the peaceful uses of
nuclear technology and to promote the use of that technology with
an extensive technical assistance program, which creates budgetary
and other tensions.50 Second, the IAEA is not the secretariat of the
NPT, nor is it empowered to enforce NPT compliance. To do so, it
would need the backing of the UNSC, which may or may not be
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forthcoming. And, third, if special inspections are refused, the
agency’s only recourse is to go to the UNSC.51
In addition, there are also problems with IAEA’s corporate cul-
ture, ranging from a penchant for compromise and the assumption
of cooperation to a general reluctance to adopt an aggressive
approach to verification. It assumes all is well until proven other-
wise. Furthermore, in all recent cases of proliferation, the agency
has only acted after strong U.S. political pressure.52
There are still other more specific problems with verification.
One is the problem of the technology: States can legally acquire all
the technology and techniques necessary for the production of fis-
sile materials without actually producing them, thereby shortening
the gap between being a member of the NPT and being a nuclear
weapons state, should it withdraw.53 Verification itself has inherent
limits because it can never clear a state or prove a negative; at most
it can only report that nothing has been found to indicate a
weapons program. Undeclared facilities cannot be inspected or
located without specific intelligence, which the agency itself lacks.
By their nature, violations are rarely clear-cut, which necessarily
complicates responses. The quest for a smoking gun is thus a
chimera, and the system can be manipulated through deception,
delay, and denial.54
All of these issues dictate caution. A strong criticism of the IAEA
is that having ascertained that Iran failed to declare inter alia the
construction of its enrichment facilities, the agency found Iran in
material breach of its safeguards agreement but made a distinction
between a technical infraction (failure to report) and a substantive
one, that is, noncompliance with NPT obligations.55
Despite these limitations, however, the agency should be judged
by its achievements, though modest, and against the feasible alter-
natives. The IAEA policy has been shaped by Director-General
Mohammad Al Baradei, who defines noncompliance narrowly as
the diversion of materials to nuclear weapons uses.56 He sees Iran
as one of a class of problems that needs to be tackled by political
as well as technical means. His approach has been informed by
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recent experience: “The most important lesson is the confirmation
that verification and diplomacy, used in conjunction, can be effec-
tive.” At the same time, the challenge posed by Iran is not unique,
given the gaps in the treaty that allow for acquisition of sensitive
technologies that bring states close to a weapons capability. The
way to minimize security risk, Al Baradei argues, is not through
technology denial, which cannot work over time, or by creating
new distinctions among states inside the NPT. Rather, it must be
handled first by a moratorium on all enrichment activities and then
by the internationalization of the fuel cycle under multilateral con-
trol.57 This approach to a category of problems posed by holes in
the treaty appears to be gaining ground as the alternatives (coercion
and sanctions) prove elusive and uncertain in their results.
The director-general sees the issue of proliferation broadly, not
in narrow terms of technology, arguing that a nuclear program is
the tip of an iceberg masking other security, political, and eco-
nomic issues.58 At the same time Al Baradei sought to assure Iran
of his bona fides in posing the issue in terms of a “need to strike a
balance between the right of Iran to use nuclear technology and the
concern of the international community that any nuclear program
is a peaceful one” and going to some lengths to assure Iran that he
would not act as “an instrument of harassment.”59 By positioning
the agency as an independent and objective interlocutor, Al Baradei
has given the agency credibility, especially with the nonaligned
states on which Iran has counted and has made it harder for Iran
to escape from its assessments and requests.
IAEA’s response dates from August 2002 when an Iranian oppo-
sition group, the MOK, revealed the existence of nuclear facilities
that Tehran had failed to declare to the agency as it was bound to
under its safeguards agreement. This revelation raised the issue of
what other undeclared, sensitive facilities might exist and how to
respond to what was clearly (at the least) a breach of the safeguards
agreement, if not of the NPT itself. The IAEA responded by using
the revelations, resultant publicity, and political pressure to widen
the scope of its operations to dig deeper into the program.60 This
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approach was complemented and reinforced by the subsequent
agreement reached between Iran and the EU-3 in October 2003
(Tehran agreement). This in turn built on the pressure exerted first
by the U.S. government’s attempt to have the matter referred to the
UNSC, and by the firm demand of the agency’s Board of Governors
in September 2003 that Iran demonstrate cooperation or face the
consequences. The same pattern emerged once Iran sought to
escape from its Tehran agreement by reinterpreting it in the spring
and summer of 2004. First, the EU-3 and then the IAEA threatened
to side with the U.S. position and take the issue to the UN. The
result of this new pressure was a tighter agreement in Paris in
November 2004 between Iran and the EU-3, with the IAEA mak-
ing clear its support for the EU-3 demands. Again in the spring of
2005 when Iran threatened to restart some of its enrichment activ-
ities, the EU-3 and the IAEA made clear their common approach
and the consequences of a breakdown, forcing Iran to back down
from the threat. This is where matters stood before Iran unilaterally
restarted conversion activities in August 2005.
Diplomacy moved into higher gear in January 2006, reflecting
the sense of urgency and new determination of the EU-3 and the
United States to report Iran to the Security Council, after Iran’s
resumption of “research related to enrichment.” The Board of Gov-
ernors’ meeting in February produced a tough resolution recalling
that Iran was a “special verification case” with “its many failures and
breaches of obligations” and noting that “full transparency is ...
overdue.” The resolution asked Iran to suspend “all enrichment
and reprocessing activities including research and development”
and be subject to IAEA verification, and it “deeply regretted,”
“despite repeated calls,” Iran’s resumption of conversion and
enrichment activities. The resolution also asked that Iran “recon-
sider the construction of a research reactor moderated by heavy
water.” It noted that “there is a lack of confidence in Iran’s inten-
tions in seeking to develop a fissile material production capability
against the background of Iran’s record on safeguards.” Finally, the
resolution asked for the director-general to report on the imple-
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mentation of this resolution at the next board session. This report,
together with the accompanying Board of Governors’ resolution in
March, would then be conveyed to the Security Council.61
For the first time, the threat of reporting the case to the Security
Council and taking the issue from the technical-legal agency to the
political-security Security Council forum had been made. The
IAEA, reflecting this, found itself moving away from the center. Al
Baradei’s February 2006 report examined developments since
November 2005 and then made a critical overall assessment.62
Among his findings, Al Baradei suggested pragmatically that Iran
should be allowed some enrichment capability, which underesti-
mates the distrust fostered by Iran’s tactics. Not surprisingly, this
suggestion has been received coldly by the United States, France,
and Great Britain, who consider the issue to be both political and
technical.63 First, an Iranian freeze on large-scale (industrial)
enrichment would not be a meaningful concession because Iran
currently lacks such a capability. Second, any enrichment capabil-
ity could serve as a cover for a clandestine program, making mon-
itoring more difficult. Also “some enrichment” could serve as a
means for perfecting the technology for a broader program in the
future. Finally, allowing a compromise now would send the wrong
message: rewarding Iran’s deceit and cheating, with no guarantee
that it would not be repeated in the future.

Assessment of IAEA Response

The IAEA’s role has been notable in its ability to ratchet up the
pressure on Iran, while resisting U.S. calls for moving the issue
(prematurely) to the Security Council. The director-general put the
agency’s weight behind the EU-3 in resisting attempts by Iran to
define the activities covered by the voluntary suspension narrowly
enough to exclude preenrichment or the assembly and production
of centrifuges. This meant that Iran was in dispute not with three
states but the wider international community. The IAEA used Iran’s
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breach of its safeguards obligations to improve operating proce-
dures. Instead of putting the burden of proof on the agency (to find
any illegal activities), the situation was reversed: Now Iran was told
to make up for its past transgressions and demonstrate its good will
by confidence-building measures that went beyond any legal
requirement. The IAEA was able to do this by adopting a neutral
stance while cajoling and dispensing a mixture of friendly advice
and implied threat. For example, Al Baradei argued that “the ball
is in Iran’s court” and that the deficit in confidence could only be
restored by transparency. He asked that Iran restore full suspension
of “all enrichment-related activities” with no time limit.64 His
approach was based on the proposition that Iran had “tried to cheat
the system” and that it now had to take the consequences. Because
Iran had had a “clandestine program for almost two decades,” it was
a “special case.” The agency therefore asked for widespread inspec-
tions to make up for the confidence deficit.65 Requests for special
inspections that Al Baradei termed “transparency visits” were
expanded to examine military sites not covered by the Additional
Protocol (such as Parchin and Lavizan) that might have been used
for the weaponization of nuclear materials. The director-general
was “pushing the envelope under transparency,” pressing the Irani-
ans on the need to rebuild confidence.66
The success of the agency to date can be measured in part by ref-
erence to Iran’s goals and achievements. Iran values the agency for
its technical assistance and independence. Its officials differentiate
the IAEA’s stance from that of the United States as follows: “The
American statement is not very important for us. What is important
to us is the fact that our activities are based on laws and treaties that
are approved by the IAEA, and that we are fully cooperating with
the IAEA and will continue to do so.”67 That said, there is no illu-
sion about the IAEA’s role, as Hasan Rowhani observed:

The agency and Al Barade’i are international legal entities,
and given that within these institutions an eye is always fixed
on the great powers, they are forced to adopt multifaceted
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positions ... Al Barade’i makes one positive remark followed
by a negative one; two negative ones followed by a positive.
He does so because he does not want our cooperation with
the agency to be severed, while at the same time he wants to
please the world powers.68

The IAEA remains an important buffer against U.S. pressure and
a sign that Iran takes its international commitments seriously. Con-
sequently, Tehran cannot accuse the agency of bias or afford to
antagonize it. Demonstrating cooperation with it becomes an
earnest of its intentions, and ignoring its recommendations can
alienate the nonaligned states on which Iran relies for diplomatic
support. This cooperation has been costly in terms of Iran’s stated
aims. Iran has not been able to achieve its aim of having its relation-
ship with the IAEA normalized and its nuclear file closed.69 Prior
to 2003, Iran had resisted accepting the Additional Protocol, link-
ing signature with the ending of the embargo of technical materi-
als on its nuclear program. At the insistence of the IAEA, its Board
of Governors, and the nonaligned states, Iran has signed the AP and
is under pressure to ratify it. Furthermore, it has been under pres-
sure to give access to military sites not covered by the AP, as a
confidence-building measure to rebuild trust and has done so as a
“voluntary measure,” and has been commended for it.70 Iran has
also found itself opposed by the agency in its efforts to stretch the
meanings of what is and is not excluded from its suspension of
enrichment activities. The only victory that Iran could claim
(domestically) was that it avoided being referred or reported to the
UNSC between 2002 and 2005.71
The IAEA has dealt with the Iran case with considerable success.
It has conducted by one estimate over 1,600 man/days of inspec-
tions, averaging three inspections per day.72 Iran’s dossier remains
very much open, with the international spotlight focused on its
nuclear program and the agency’s reports on the quality of its coop-
eration. Through the agency’s inspections much more is known
about Iran, and the international community has “made good
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strides in understanding the nature and scope of its program.”73
Iran’s signature and application of the AP provisions complicates
and makes more risky (though not impossible) any clandestine
activity it might engage in, especially running an elaborate parallel
nuclear program. The pressure on Iran to suspend its enrichment
program (broadly defined) amounted to a freeze on Iran’s develop-
ment of sensitive technologies for the past two years. The agency’s
role as an international institution has made it easier for Iran to
retreat from established positions and also for others like the non-
aligned states or Russia to appeal to Iran to meet the agency’s
The IAEA’s support has also strengthened the EU-3 diplomatic
initiative. They in turn have used the agency to validate their con-
cerns and implement their queries. Al Baradei’s big picture
approach to the question of proliferation (not strictly a part of his
professional mandate) parallels the EU-3 initiative, taking it out of
the narrow technical realm toward the broader motivations under-
lying the program.75 The major criticism of the agency that can be
made is to question whether a “diplomacy at any price” approach
is always the right answer. However, the case of Iraq makes it
harder to fault an approach that seeks to build the case slowly
through inspections without closing down a source of information
that would leave the agency and governments in the dark.

EU-3 Approach

The 9/11 terrorist attack on the United States and the Iraq war
have galvanized the EU to define its position on WMD prolifera-
tion. The EU-3, determined to avoid a repetition of the transatlantic
rift opened up by Iraq, decided to define Europe’s policy proactively
and robustly. European interests in this issue were clear enough on
several fronts. Proximity makes Europe and the Middle East virtu-
ally part of the same neighborhood. It is within missile range of any
proliferators. It has large Muslim populations who could be upset
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by further crises or radicalization of the region. It depends on the
region for energy security. And, finally, it has a more general inter-
est to tackle an important security issue to demonstrate the EU’s
international role and effectiveness.
To meet new threats preventively and if necessary through for-
ward defense, the EU defined its strategy on security and WMD as
envisioning a transatlantic partnership (which came to embrace
the PSI and cooperation in the G-8) with the use of force, if neces-
sary.76 A non-proliferation clause was added to agreements with
countries seeking relations with the EU. A major difference with the
U.S. approach is the EU focus on the regional sources of motiva-
tions for nuclear weapons acquisition and thus on addressing the
legitimate security concerns of proliferators.77
The EU-3 negotiations with Iran, first in the Tehran agreement
(September 2003) and then with the more detailed Paris agree-
ment (November 2004), were more than negotiations between
Europe and Iran.78 In reality they constituted three-way negotia-
tions, between the EU-3 and Iran, between the EU-3 and the
United States, and, albeit indirectly, between Iran and the United
States. This triangular set of interactions raised a number of prob-
lems and questions in the negotiations. For the EU-3, it was nec-
essary to coordinate positions with the United States, despite
different approaches and the skeptical and lukewarm attitude of the
United States toward the diplomacy. The EU-3 was negotiating
with its ally, the United States, as much as with Iran. For Iran, there
was and still is a need for an interlocutor, and the EU-3 was the best
it could “afford.”79 Iran sought to play on possible differences
between Europe and the United States but failed to use the EU-3
to build bridges with the United States.
The EU-3 and the United States started from similar points: the
imperative to block Iran’s nuclear aspirations, by the use of force,
if necessary. They shared a broader perspective as well. Both agreed
that the underpinnings of security are most assured where there has
been a spread of freedom and democracy. Differences arose, how-
ever, after this point. For example, the United States believes the
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Iranian regime to be the primary problem, whereas the EU-3 sees
Tehran’s nuclear program as the key issue. These different assump-
tions lead to different approaches. Whereas key elements in the
United States see engagement and diplomacy as endorsement of the
regime and a sellout of its opponents, the EU-3 sees it as the best
means to effect regime change.80 The United States prefers sanc-
tions and isolation of a regime that equates regime maintenance
with the national interest.81 On the one hand, if one accepts that the
regime is illegitimate, how can one argue for its legitimate security
interests, as European leaders have done?82 On the other hand,
however, the United States taking a morally inspired passive posi-
tion of disengagement amounted to a “nonpolicy” that threatened
to exacerbate differences between the two. Therefore, if the EU-3
were to devise a package of incentives for Iran to forgo its nuclear
ambitions, it had to not only coordinate with Washington but also
gain its active support.83
Before the United States decided to support the EU-3 indirectly
in 2005, it sought to get a commitment from its allies that, in the
event of failure, they would refer Iran to the Security Council.84
Even with the EU-3 accepting agreement on referral to the UNSC
and the indirect involvement of the United States, there remained
the question of the point of the negotiations. Both agreed on what
Iran should not be permitted to retain, yet differences remained on
the best means to that end. For the EU-3, limiting the nuclear pro-
gram was the aim and diplomacy the preferred means. For the
United States, diplomacy appeared to be the means to demonstrate
that no agreement was possible, which implied the need for more
forceful measures to see the Iranian regime exit the scene.
In its negotiations, the EU-3 has given Iran a structured choice:
continuation of the development of the fuel cycle and referral to the
Security Council—with all that sanctions, condemnation, and isola-
tion would entail—or acceptance of a package of inducements to
forgo the fuel cycle.85 After the Paris agreement the EU-3 tightened
the terms of its negotiations. While Iranian suspension of enrichment
is voluntary (rather than legally binding) pending agreement or col-
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lapse of the negotiations, this suspension (including preenrichment,
assembly, or production of centrifuges) would continue. The aim of
the agreement was to ensure Iran’s peaceful uses of nuclear technol-
ogy. For this, the EU-3 insisted on objective guarantees regarding
Iran’s program, which it defines in practice as cessation of fissile mate-
rial production. Iran in turn defines its suspension as voluntary, lim-
ited in time, and a confidence-building gesture. Iran sees objective
guarantees as equivalent to the provisions of the Additional Protocol
(that is, guarantees through enhanced inspections). Iran insists that
its redline is enrichment, which it is not prepared to forgo.86 The EU-
3 and the United States, however, agree that Iran’s acquisition of
enrichment was their redline.
The EU-3 prepared a package to propose to Iran, stipulating
that in exchange for Iran giving up its fuel cycle ambitions, the
EU-3 would guarantee its fuel supply from more than one source
(EU and Russia), offer Iran proliferation-resistant nuclear technol-
ogy (light water reactors), bolster investment and trade ties, and
increase Iran’s involvement in regional security discussions and
possibly institutions. In addition the question of security guaran-
tees was also broached.87
The United States saw its role as stiffening the spine of the EU-
3. For example in response to Iranian attempts to get acceptance of
its retention of a pilot project of centrifuges that it argued was sym-
bolic (numbers vary between 500 and 3,000 centrifuges), the
United States made clear that cessation meant none, not even a few.88
The EU-3 agreed with the U.S. position because it would be tech-
nically difficult to monitor and assure peaceful uses. The EU-3
approach was diplomatic—not to reject but to study, evaluate, and
suggest alternatives.89 Keeping the talks going assumed importance
not because a breakthrough was in sight but because of the risks of
a crisis that would accompany a breakdown in the talks. This did
not imply weak diplomacy however. It was clear to the EU-3 that
there was little room for maneuver: “The problem is political but
the solution is technical, and the only technical solution we have
found is cessation.”90 While there was no difference between the
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EU-3 and the United States on the need for cessation as such, there
was more give in the EU position. The Iranians rejected the sugges-
tion of suspending activities for a period of years, and the United
States rejected the suggestion of allowing Iran to retain some enrich-
ment capabilities. Both rejections effectively narrowed the scope for
compromise. At the same time the EU-3 did not hesitate to threaten
Iran with immediate referral to the UNSC when Tehran made
moves toward resuming conversion activities in June 2005.91
Relations between the EU-3 and Iran steadily deteriorated after
Tehran’s brusque rejection of the EU-3 offer of a package deal in
July 2005. The November meeting of the IAEA delayed a decision
on whether to send the issue to the Security Council to give the
Russian proposal a chance.92 Nonetheless, that meeting showed
that the votes existed in the Board of Governors for such a trans-
fer. The following month the EU “unreservedly condemned” the
comments made by Iran’s president on the Holocaust and Israel’s
right to exist, hinting at diplomatic sanctions.93 In response to Iran’s
resumption of enrichment research in January, which the United
States dubbed a serious escalation, the EU-3 convened a special
meeting in Berlin.94 In a statement after the meeting, the member
states noted that the dispute was not “between Iran and Europe, but
between Iran and the whole international community.” While still
committed to a diplomatic solution, “We believe the time has now
come for the Security Council to become involved to reinforce the
authority of IAEA resolutions.”95 This meeting was followed at the
end of the month by another meeting in London of the EU-3, the
United States, China, and Russia. At this milestone gathering, the
states agreed to report Iran to the Security Council. Within a week,
an extraordinary meeting of the IAEA’s Board of Governors was
convened, and on February 4, 2006, in a vote of 27 to 3 (with five
abstentions), the board agreed to report the Iranian dossier to the
Security Council. At the urging of Al Baradei and Russia, it was
agreed to give diplomacy another month, after which the director-
general would present an agency report prior to definitive action.
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The result, as has been seen, is a report that provides an overview
of the issue. The Russian proposal has floundered as it is not con-
sistent with Iran’s quest for an indigenous enrichment capability.
The March 2006 agency meeting thus agreed to report Iran to the
Security Council.

Assessment of EU-3 Response

The EU-3 has taken an unhurried approach to negotiations, refus-
ing to be harassed by Iran’s self-imposed deadlines, ultimatums,
and brinksmanship, while seeking a solution that could meet
Tehran’s security interests and demonstrate the success of Europe’s
diplomatic strategy. 96 Playing for time, trying to build confidence,
but taking a firm line on essential points are tactics in the service
of a diplomacy that is practical and nonideological—classic
realpolitik. As the Iranians have observed, the Europeans have a
stake in a successful outcome and in demonstrating that they can
fly solo. But Iranian actions and attitude after mid-2005 hardened
the European position, bringing it closer to the U.S. view that a
nuclear Iran is intolerable and must be prevented. Iran’s belliger-
ent statements about Israel in October, in particular, made it eas-
ier for the Europeans and Americans to agree on the need to take
a harder line with Tehran. But while the United States has shown
some willingness to associate itself with this diplomacy, it contin-
ues to sharpen the sanctions at its disposal by extending its sec-
ondary sanctions. It remains unclear whether the EU-3 even with
the direct and active input of the United States, can offer Iran
enough carrots to give up its insistence on the full fuel cycle, or
whether Russia or China can do more than delay a crisis. As things
currently stand with the breakdown of negotiations due to Iran’s
resumption of conversion activities and enrichment research, the
threat of mandatory sanctions under Chapter 7 in the UNSC
appear to be the greatest leverage for the resumption of diplo-
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macy. For although sanctions may be difficult to realize or implement,
even partial sanctions and a drawn-out crisis are bound to impose
costs on Iran.
What then has the EU-3 accomplished? It has demonstrated
that there is little dividing the United States and Europe on this
issue. The EU-3 threw Iran a lifeline that Tehran rejected. It has
given Iran a choice between a crisis and a negotiated settlement. It
has bought time. Its negotiations have at least retarded Iran’s
nuclear program. It has brought the United States on board, at least
indirectly, giving the negotiations more chance of success, since
diplomacy has not necessarily run its course.97 Diplomacy—and
the need to reinstate suspension prior to negotiations—may
resume, precisely because the alternatives are unpalatable to all
parties, but it may need a broader bargain to stand a chance of

Russian Approach

Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia has had good rela-
tions with Iran. In addition to being Tehran’s major arms supplier
since 1989, Russia has cooperated with Iran in Tajikistan,
Afghanistan (anti-Taliban), and Armenia (against Azerbaijan).
Moscow considers Iran an important stabilizing element in the
region, not least because Tehran has not encouraged radical forms
of Islam or fomented troubles in Russia’s south (for example, in
Chechnya). Iran’s arms purchases in hard currency have been wel-
come in post-Soviet Russia, where plants lie idle. The agreement in
1989 to build a nuclear reactor at Bushire had a similar commer-
cial rationale. This quasistrategic relationship has been cemented by
the two states’ opposition to NATO enlargement eastward and since
9/11 by similar concern about U.S. unilateralism and acquisition of
bases in the region.
In the Yeltsin era, despite U.S. pressure, the arms and nuclear
technology relationship grew, whether through official or semi-
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official channels. This was in part a reflection of the continued
zero-sum thinking vis-à-vis the United States typified by the Soviet-
era Middle East expert Yevgeni Primakov.98 In 1995 through the
Gore–Chernomyrdin Commission, the United States and Russia
agreed to limit further arms sales to Iran, but the reactor deal on
Bushire (initially valued at $800 million) continued and Iranian
technicians were trained in Russia.99
Russia’s relationship with Iran, however, changed somewhat
with the arrival of President Putin. Iran’s strategic importance was
initially given new importance. In 2000 Russia repudiated the
Gore–Chernomyrdin agreement and revived the arms relationship
with Iran. Russia appreciated Iran’s potential as a regional ally and
its stubborn, defiant independence regarding the United States. As
Putin put it, “Economically, Russia is interested in cooperation ...
and politically Iran should be a self-sufficient state that is ready to
protect its national interests.”100
This view shifted with the revelations of Iran’s nuclear activities
in mid-2002, and since then Russian policy has attempted to bal-
ance the need for good relations with its “old and stable partner”
and the imperative of preventing Tehran’s acquisition of nuclear
weapons.101 Balancing strategic and non-proliferation interests, as
well as commercial and political interests, Russia has found itself
using the IAEA as the reference point for policies that Tehran might
find unpalatable and in the process moving closer and closer to the
position of the EU-3.102 As non-proliferation concerns have grown
during the 2003–2005 period, Russian policy has become clearer,
and there is less apparent concern about losing Iran as a commer-
cial or strategic partner. In reality Iran has few strategic alternatives
for arms, technology, or diplomatic support. Nevertheless, Russia
continues to see Iran as an important state that it would prefer to
accommodate if possible; as Putin put it, “to infringe upon a coun-
try like Iran is counterproductive and could lead to quite compli-
cated and serious consequences.”103
From 2003 forward, Russia aligned its position with that of the
EU-3, supporting its initiatives, closely consulting with the EU-3 in
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their negotiations with Iran, and conducting its own contacts with
Tehran in parallel.104 At the same time Russia made clear its oppo-
sition to Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. As Putin put it force-
fully, “With the possession of nuclear weapons, none of the
problems confronting Iran, including the security issues in the
region can be solved ... We are categorically opposed to the enlarge-
ment of the club of nuclear states.”105 Putin and his experts (like
those in the EU-3) have extended this opposition to Iran’s develop-
ment of the full fuel cycle: “Our Iranian partners must give up
development of nuclear (fuel) cycle technology.”106
While insisting on the continuing validity of the partnership
between the two countries, Russia has given priority to preventing
the emergence of a nuclear Iran and exerting diplomatic muscle to
that end. For example, at U.S. insistence Russia concluded an agree-
ment with Iran to ensure the return of spent fuel from Bushire.107 In
support of the EU-3 in 2004, Russia warned Iran that failure to
arrive at an agreement would lead to the end of nuclear cooperation
between the two countries.108 And Russia tied the completion of the
Bushire project to a satisfactory outcome of the discussions with
the EU-3. Both the date of completion and the dispatch of fuel for
the reactor were geared to the outcome of this diplomacy.109
Russian diplomacy took a slightly different turn after the failure
of the EU-3 package proposal in June 2005. Russia appeared to rel-
ish the defeat and the opportunity it presented for Moscow to play
a more prominent role. Balancing between the desire to keep Iran
friendly and to play a leading role in the international coalition
(and G-8), Moscow’s traditional ambivalence became more pro-
nounced.110 On the one hand, Russia agreed to sell Iran $1 billion
in air defense missiles and argued against any precipitate act, such
as sanctions, that might “aggravate things.”111 On the other hand,
Russia insisted that its proposal to carry out enrichment on Russ-
ian soil constituted a logical way out of the diplomatic impasse
and some form of Security Council sanctions. In general Russia
sought to hew closely to the international consensus, hiding behind
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the IAEA and the consensus therein, doing little to strengthen or
weaken it, and avoiding a conspicuous or forward role.
The principal explanation for the evolution from a lukewarm
response to Iran’s resumption of conversion activities in August to
Russia’s greater support for the coalition after November 2005
seems to have been twofold: first, the existence (to some extent) of
a Russian formula and a leading role in the crisis, and second, the
desire to embrace diplomacy to forestall a possible military alterna-
tive from an exasperated United States, a point that Russian Defense
Minister Sergey Ivanov noted explicitly.112 In its negotiations with
Iran, Russia has been tough in arguing that Iran has violated its
obligations to the IAEA and that for diplomacy to work Tehran
should resume its suspension of enrichment for an indefinite
period and accept inspections.113
The Russian proposal—which still provides a last chance for Iran
to avoid sanctions and which has U.S. and European support—is a
clear attempt to take enrichment out of Iran’s hands for a consider-
able period of time (ten years perhaps) while possibly allowing it to
retain some parts of the fuel cycle. It remains to be seen whether Iran
will consider Russia a more reliable supplier of fuel than the West-
ern countries. In any case, in the nuclear diplomacy that has
unfolded, it is the only currently active proposal, which Iran can
reject at its own risk. The proposal, which is by no means complete
(and which might include other states such as China), is seen by the
Russians as a step toward the development of international centers
for nuclear fuel production. Russian experts stress their global per-
spective: “If such a network (of international fuel centres) existed,
the sort of problem that exists with Iran today would not occur.”114
Although Russia may be acting constructively for the interna-
tional community, it is clear that its proposal is not attractive for
Iran economically and that control over Iran’s fuel supply (as well
as its reactor programs, technical training, and arms supplies)
gives Moscow considerable future leverage over its unpredictable
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At the same time Russia’s reluctance to impose sanctions on Iran
in the Security Council serves to underline Moscow’s independence
from the United States and its privileged ties with Tehran. At what
point Moscow’s support for diplomacy without teeth is exhausted
remains to be seen.
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Iran and Regional Security

ran seeks a leading role in the Muslim world and the Middle East
regional order. Its efforts have focused on reshaping this order to
it more conducive to Iran’s interests. This objective implies a
correspondingly diminished role for the United States and the
West, which are seen as rivals having a different vision of the
regional order—a vision that is antithetical to Iranian interests and
aspirations. Iran’s determination to have a dominant role in the
region stems from Iranian nationalism in general, but the empha-
sis on revolutionary Iran as a role model, the exploitation of Islam,
and the zero-sum approach to the Western powers are specific to
the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Iran is motivated by both offensive and defensive considera-
tions, but its aims correspond more to its ambitions than to its
fears. After all, U.S. encirclement is relatively new and was pre-
ceded by Iran’s export of the revolution and determination to
stymie the various efforts at a Middle East peace process. The con-
tent of the order Iran envisions—beyond being Islamic and ratify-
ing Iran’s leading role—is fuzzy, but it clearly includes the
elimination of the Western presence and a reduction of its influ-
ence. A nuclear capability would help to counter and compete with
that influence and demonstrate the arrival of Iran as a regional
great power.
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114 | Iran and Regional Security

The defensive aspect of Iran’s ambitions stems from structural
conditions in the region rather than hostility toward the West. As
a Persian Shiite state, Iran is in the minority in the largely Sunni
Middle East with no natural ally or constituency upon which to
rely.1 Sunni Arab nationalism is a potential rival and certainly a
constraint on Iran’s leadership pretensions. The specter of
Iran–Arab polarization and Iran’s containment is thus dealt with by
an activist policy that redefines issues such as Palestine as Muslim
rather than simply an Arab or national/territorial question. By out-
bidding the Arab states in its extremism (or support for the resis-
tance in its terminology) on Palestine, Iran appeals to the Arab
street and embarrasses and puts the Arab states on the defensive.
So, preventing a united Arab front against it is an additional incen-
tive for Iran to assume a leading role. At the same time Iran hopes
to exploit the political instability in the region taking shape in the
form of Islamist movements and parties (for example, Hamas).
These groups are less disposed toward compromise or moderation
in the achievement of their political objectives.
Similarly, to weaken the United States in the region, Iran tries to
exploit existing crises, discontent, and anti-Americanism, which
can be done most effectively on the Palestine issue—the “Achilles’
heel” of the United States in the region.2 Turmoil in Iraq is clearly
another source that feeds the opposition of many to a U.S. regional
presence. The spoiler needs leverage, and Iran cultivates its sources
with little regard for ideology: for example, Islamic Jihad, Al Qaeda,
Hamas, Muqtada al Sadr, among others.3 Iran seeks to cultivate
states in formal relations as well, with periodic peace offensives.
As a Persian, Shiite state with an important pre-Islamic past, Iran
shares few bonds with its Arab Sunni neighbors. Iran cannot rely on
any other state for automatic sympathy or support, which makes its
ambitions for greater status and power more problematic regionally.
In the north, Iran has relied on Russia as a strategic partner, based
on a common interest in excluding or reducing U.S. power in the
region. This has led to cooperation on Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, and
Taliban Afghanistan. Moscow values Iran’s silence on the Chechen
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issue and its willingness to forgo any attempt to exploit Islamic
extremism in the Caucasus. The convergence in interests is not per-
fect, however; for example, the two have differed on the division of
the Caspian’s resources. Similarly on the issue of nuclear technology,
Russia has been unwilling to see Iran acquire an enrichment capa-
bility and has broadly supported the EU-3 attempts to constrain it.
As discussed in chapter 5, Moscow has argued for more patience
and diplomacy, hidden behind the IAEA, and has been reluctant to
lead any sanctions or condemnation, preferring to follow rather
than lead any international sanctions that might result.4
Iran’s reliance (actually dependence) on Russia for arms, tech-
nology, and diplomatic support reflects a strong current in Iranian
thinking that seeks to align itself with a “rising Asia” behind China,
Russia, and India to challenge the U.S.-dominated world order.5
Islamic Iran’s preoccupation with the United States is not simply
a result of the United States’ dominant role in international affairs.
It also stems from the Iranian leadership’s perception that a U.S.-
dominated region and the regime’s own survival are not compatible.
Therefore, opposition to the United States, a “founding myth” of the
revolution, has become a permanent goal of the Islamic Republic.6
This suggests an Iranian view that is zero-sum, in which even com-
mon interests cannot be built upon because an increase in U.S.
influence can only translate into Iran’s disadvantage.
In the context of a substantial U.S. regional presence, Iran’s
objectives are largely defensive, characterized by a combination of
hedging strategies and a spoiler role. They entail using whatever
issues and conflicts exist to dilute and weaken U.S. influence and
increase Iran’s. In the process Iran has aggravated the suspicions of
its neighbors, who rely on U.S. power.

United States as Threat and Strategic Rival

Since 1945, U.S. and Western policy in the Persian Gulf can be
encapsulated by the terms access and denial: access to the region’s
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116 | Iran and Regional Security

oil supplies and denial of the region and its resources to a hostile
power. After the Cold War the threats to these interests have come
from regional states. Since 1990, when U.S. forces were first placed
in large numbers on the Arabian peninsula, Iran has sought to
reverse the trend toward forward presence. Iran attempted to
counter dual containment by offering to cooperate with the Persian
Gulf states on security issues. Iran’s military, especially naval, pro-
curement, including antiship missiles, mines, and submarines, sug-
gested an intent to develop a sea-denial capability to counter the
United States.7
The extension of U.S. military presence in the region—after
9/11, with bases in Afghanistan, Central Asia, the Persian Gulf,
and after 2003, in Iraq—increased Iran’s sense of insecurity. At the
same time the stakes in the region increased as the issue of energy
supplies became mixed with those of terrorism, Islamic extremism,
and weapons of mass destruction. As it became embroiled in Iraq,
the United States enlarged its strategic objectives to include a
makeover of the Middle East, encouraging democratic reform and
change and speaking of its goals as a “task for a generation.” This
rhetoric implied a continuing determination to play a major role in,
and continued access to, the region.
The U.S. role in trying to exclude Iran from regional politics
and by way of sanctions to prevent it from cooperating in energy
with the Caspian states has imposed significant costs on Iran. But
the exclusion transcends the bounds of commerce: Washington
and its allies, the Iranian leaders believe, have never accepted or
acknowledged “the rule of the Islamic system, our national security
and territorial integrity” and have sought to “change the conduct
and nature of the Islamic republic.”8 Iran sees the U.S. greater Mid-
dle East plan as a “project for a sustained presence in the region.”9
In countering U.S. influence, Iran has gained some advantages
in that its defiant stance and insistence on independence evokes a
certain admiration.10 The decline in U.S. credibility and moral
stature as a result of the war in Iraq and revelations at Abu Ghraib
has given Iran an opening to exploit the ambivalent relationship
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Iran and Regional Security | 117

between the Arabs and the United States. At the same time, Iran
itself suffers from certain disadvantages. One is structural: As a
large non-Arab state, Iran is seen as a potential threat and has dif-
ficulty in piercing the automatism of Arab solidarity and rank clos-
ing in disputes. Thus a dispute with one becomes a dispute with all,
as in the case of the islands contested with Abu Dhabi. Similarly,
any Iranian influence in Iraq is seen as undesirable by the Arab
states, whatever the nature of the regime in Iran or Iraq and what-
ever the status of Iran–Arab ties.11 A second set of obstacles for Iran
with regard to the Arab states arises from the nature of the regime
in Tehran. Active export of the revolution and covert interventions
in the Arab states, together with Iran’s support of terrorism, have
left a durable legacy of distrust, making cooperation with a profess-
edly reformed Tehran problematic.

Iran’s Regional Ambitions

Iran wants to make itself the indisputable regional power without
which no regional issue of any importance can be addressed.12 As the
United States has become bogged down with Iraq, thus reducing its
threat to Iran, Tehran has become emboldened.13 In reply to
Rowhani’s comment that “wherever Iran goes, it faces the United
States. This includes Iraq,” Mousavian, another senior negotiator,
observed, “That is right, but there is another side to it. Wherever the
US goes, it faces Iran.”14 Outgoing Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani
referred to Iran’s missiles as giving the country regional deterrence.
He said that “Iran is following a path aimed at making others, despite
their will, accept Iran as a regional power.” Shamkhani earlier noted
that Iran was “prepared to sign non-aggression pacts and pacts to pre-
vent the use of bases by a third force with all regional states,” and Iran
has “always sought such regional pacts against the wishes of outside
powers.”15 President Ahmadinejad’s chief security advisor, Ali Lari-
jani, ran for president arguing that the United States sought to
exclude Iran from regional groupings and that Iran ought to leverage
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118 | Iran and Regional Security

its regional power into geostrategic power. After the election Larijani
defined Ahmadinejad’s policy as creating strategic relations with
neighbors and creating “new regional arrangements and coalitions.”16
Larijani has suggested to his counterpart in Iraq that the two coun-
tries could be the nucleus of a new regional security system.17 When
faced with the threat of referral to the Security Council, he pointedly
observed that “considering the power it enjoys in the region,” Iran
need not fear Security Council measures.18 Iran’s reduced sense of
vulnerability (and shift in perceived relative balance of power)
between 2003 and 2005 was exemplified by nuclear negotiator Sirus
Naseri’s comment that “Iran is not Iraq and the US is not the self-
appointed policeman of the world anymore.”19
Iran’s conception of a regional security arrangement for the Gulf
involves building confidence through practical bilateral cooperative
measures (extradition agreements on terrorists) and tying an even-
tual agreement to the allusions to it in paragraph 8 of Security
Council resolution 598, which ended the Iran–Iraq war. Some of
the smaller states have sought the inclusion of Yemen and Pakistan
in any eventual agreement.20
The GCC states, however cordial, entertain few illusions about
Iran’s aims. Iran’s size and its past record make them suspicious.
Iran’s possible exploitation of their often significant Shiite popula-
tions (varying from 5 percent in Saudi Arabia to 30 percent in
Kuwait to nearly 60 percent in Bahrain and Iraq) is an additional
cause for concern. This fear is amplified by the prospect of the first
Arab Shiite state emerging in Iraq. This might embolden other
restive Shiites in the Gulf, allowing Iran the possibility to use this
as a basis for an alliance. Many in the region share Saudi King
Abdullah’s fears about the emergence of a “Shia crescent” stretch-
ing from Lebanon through Iraq to Iran and south toward Bahrain
and beyond.21 Iran’s border dispute with Iraq and a territorial dis-
pute with the United Arab Emirates continue to upset relations
periodically. For example, there is the ongoing disagreement over
the name of the waterway: Persian or Arab? Iran’s arms programs
come under criticism as well.22
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There will be no great enthusiasm for exploring new security
arrangements until the outcome in Iraq (and U.S. standing) becomes
clearer, and as long as Iran’s nuclear ambitions remain ambiguous.
Given the limited scope for replacing the United States as the
region’s security guarantor in the Persian Gulf states, Iran has sought
to use two current conflicts to improve its position in the region and
weaken that of the United States. On the issue of Palestine, Tehran
outbids the Arab states in its support for rejectionism, putting them
on the defensive and inhibiting any criticism of Iran’s other regional
policies. At the same time, Tehran seeks to discredit those states
close to the West. This stance requires a spoiler strategy, undermin-
ing cease-fires and sabotaging peace processes by aggravating ten-
sions and preventing peacemaking. Iran achieves this through
providing arms, training, and funding to proxies—directly to
Hezbollah (with Syria) and indirectly to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Its strategic rationale goes as follows: The United States seeks hege-
mony in the region and its natural resources and wants to achieve
it as a first step through the roadmap foisted onto the hapless Pales-
tinians. It is therefore, so the thinking goes, the duty of all Middle
East countries, including Iran, to oppose Israel and any compromise
peace, which would be tantamount to surrender.23
Iran is the only state in the Middle East that denies Israel’s right
to exist. Its bellicose policies are clearly intended to divert regional
attention from Iran’s own missile and nuclear programs. The ques-
tion posed is whether, given its record of indirect conflict with
Israel, a nuclear and more confident Iran might not choose to con-
front Israel more directly, or take greater risks through its proxies,
than before? At the very least, the risks of a misjudgment increase
On Iraq, Iran faces another choice: Should it seek to weaken the
United States by bleeding it and taking the risk that a U.S. failure
there could translate into regionwide instability (and Sunni–Shiite
polarization) or should Tehran set aside competition with the
United States and build on the convergence of interest in Iraq?
That overlap in interest is substantial: Both states want a unified,
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120 | Iran and Regional Security

stable, moderate, and democratic (and therefore Shiite-dominant)
state. Neither Tehran nor Washington wants a weak or disintegrat-
ing state, an Arab nationalist state, or an extremist Islamist state.
The differences arise from mutual suspicions that each seeks to
dominate the future Iraq at the expense of the other’s interest. The
reality is that neither has the ability to determine outcomes but
each can probably harm the other and its own interests in the stub-
born competition.
As a neighbor Iran has a considerable stake in the stability of
Iraq. With a majority Shiite population in both countries and major
Shiite shrines located in southern Iraq, there has long been inter-
action between the two countries. The eight-year war between the
two states in the 1980s left a number of issues unresolved (border
agreement, prisoners of war, compensation or reparations). In addi-
tion a number of groups—notably the Iraqi Shiite grouping, the
Supreme Council for the Islamic Republic of Iraq (SCIRI) with its
Badr Brigade militia—were given sanctuary, funded, and trained in
Iran. In the current near-civil war in Iraq, Iran retains some influ-
ence with this group, and other Shiites (such as Prime Minister
Jafaari of the Dawa Party) are naturally suspected of nefarious aims.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards also have a presence and retain con-
tacts and influence in Iraq. On a visit to Iraq in mid-2005 the Ira-
nian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi was received by Ayatollah
Sistani (which no ranking U.S. official has yet managed). Kharrazi
pointedly reminded his hosts that Iran would remain a neighbor
long after the United States has departed.24
Iranian leaders say that Iraq “is a turning point in [the] region.”25
Unable to predict Iraq’s future, Tehran seeks to maximize its options
in the fluid circumstances, which means creating multiple contacts
and links across the spectrum of opposition and government forces
for possible leverage. Iran has sought to reassure the Iraqi govern-
ment of its goodwill by offering assistance, while maintaining ties
with the Dawa Party, SCIRI (and its Badr Brigade militia), Muqtada
al Sadr, and Ayatollah Sistani. There are also reports that Iran is
funding Sunni insurgent forces, because they target U.S. forces.26
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Although Iran shares U.S. concerns that Iraq remain intact,
become democratic by giving increased power to the majority Shi-
ite, and avoid becoming a radical Arab nationalist or Islamist state,
the differences between Tehran and Washington preclude any
cooperation to that end. Agreement to discuss Iraq will not change
this. Above all, Iran’s strategic priority has been to ensure that the
United States remains bogged down in the Iraqi quagmire while
maintaining its own options (and contacts or proxies) as to how it
will play the endgame. 27 This strategy has entailed a complex set
of policies, mixing disruptive behavior with offers to the United
States to help stabilize the country. Iraqi Sunnis and others, includ-
ing the United States, are suspicious of Iran’s intentions and issue
frequent warnings to Tehran.28
Iran links the nuclear issue to the U.S. regional presence and to
the future of Iraq and Afghanistan. While seeking to deflect mili-
tary pressure and limit U.S. options, Iran has offered to use its
influence to assist the U.S. stabilization of these countries in
exchange for greater tolerance of Iran’s nuclear program.29 In effect
Iran holds regional stability hostage to U.S. policies on the nuclear
issue, which have been inconsistent: “The Bush administration has
vacillated between two very different approaches. At times it sig-
naled support for regime change[;] at other times it engaged in
direct discussions with Tehran over Iraq and Afghanistan.”30
Iran may find it difficult to calibrate the correct balance among
maintaining links with various groups, its desire for stability, and
its intention to deny the United States a success or honorable exit.
Reports of Iran providing insurgents with shaped charges for explo-
sives and increased assistance could lead, if sufficiently blatant, to
an Iranian–U.S. confrontation.31 Iran wants stability in Iraq, but not
at the price of continued U.S. bases in that country or its own con-
tainment by U.S. power.32
In sum, Iran is developing a sea-denial capability and missiles
while cultivating the GCC states with confidence-building meas-
ures and talk about a new security arrangement. Iran seeks to outdo
the Arab states in support for the Palestinians while inhibiting their
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reactions to its own policies. Tehran enjoys special relations with
Syria and Hezbollah and exploits anti-Americanism and the sensi-
tivity of regimes being labeled U.S. clients. Iran is cultivating its ties
with Shiite populations in the region and hedging its bets on the
future of Iraq, which Tehran would like to have as a strategic ally.
Although the shape of the regional order that Iran would like to see
is unclear, it has certain identifiable features: it is hostile to the
United States (West); it is Islamic and independent; and Iran has a
leading role in it. A nuclear-capable Iran would be better placed to
bring such an order into being.

Iran in the New U.S. Strategic Context:
From Regime Change to Democratization

Iran’s bid for a nuclear capability is of inherent political impor-
tance, but it is magnified by both the kind of regime it is and the
regional context within which its proliferation is taking place. This
context, sensitive and unstable, has been made the more so by U.S.
policy in Afghanistan and Iraq. Furthermore Iran’s policies in the
region and beyond, opposed to U.S. interests, were one of the cri-
teria that made the United States so implacable and hostile to Ira-
nian proliferation. The unanticipated U.S. entanglement in Iraq
gradually saw a shift in U.S. policy goals to rationalize the costs of
the deeper engagement. The United States elided from a policy of
regime change to the more ambitious and open-ended one of
democratization. The new rationale for a generational commitment
in the Middle East became the necessity of democratization that
alone could guarantee an end to radicalism and proliferation.33 It
is this approach that colors policy toward Iran today.34
U.S. involvement in the region reflects and shapes the strategic
context of the contemporary Middle East. The United States has
become a regional player and revolutionary state with a long-term
commitment to promoting change. The implicit trade-off is among
short- and long-term stability, supporting allies, and encouraging
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democratic opposition and reform. Deeper U.S. involvement comes
at a time of transition in the region, where the pressures for polit-
ical reform have grown, oil incomes have risen, and competition for
Persian Gulf oil has increased. Together with its long-standing com-
mitment to Israel, which remains unaffected, the United States has
assumed a greater role in the Caucasus and Central Asia, where it
has access to an arc of military bases. In the south, the United
States has diversified its base structure among the smaller Gulf
states, notably Bahrain and Qatar. Iraq and Afghanistan will provide
access facilities to the United States for the foreseeable future. While
militarily present and politically active in the region, the United
States is also overextended militarily, which makes it vulnerable to
crises and demands on its forces elsewhere and to reverses that
could call into question whatever progress has been made in
Afghanistan and Iraq so far.
In this context, discussions of a military option to prevent Iran’s
nuclear ambitions have an air of desperation and bluff. Although
this course can never be totally discounted as a last resort or pru-
dently devalued in diplomacy and negotiations before that stage, in
practical terms it is an unattractive and probably counterproductive
option.35 An attack would need to destroy all sites and be able to
assure that the nuclear program would not resume or accelerate
outside of the NPT. It would need the full support of the interna-
tional community, following prolonged attempts toward a diplo-
matic effort, and demonstrate incontrovertibly that Iran was
seeking or in possession of nuclear weapons. A strike would need
to cover enough targets to destroy the infrastructure but not
enough to constitute an act of war against the Iranian people or to
strengthen the regime. Iranian responses would have to be antici-
pated, whether they be missile strikes or terrorism against the
United States or its regional allies. In this context, the United States
overexposure in Iraq surely constitutes a liability (with U.S. forces
a form of hostage to Washington’s good behavior).36
The intelligence debacle surrounding Iraq has made tackling
Iran more difficult. Some have argued that the United States
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124 | Iran and Regional Security

invaded the wrong country; Iran filled more of the criteria than
Iraq. What Hans Blix calls “faith-based intelligence” has been, at
least temporarily, discredited.37 Today, the lack of good (that is,
actionable) intelligence on Iran means U.S. policy is flying blind on
most issues affecting Iran, most especially its secret programs. An
official and comprehensive report underscoring this suggested to
professionals the need for greater caution where Iran was con-
cerned. But senior U.S. officials argued that this should not lead
states to “underreact” and that “there are no guarantees where intel-
ligence is concerned.”38

U.S. Response to the Regional
Implications of a Nuclear-Capable Iran

Iran has sent mixed signals about its nuclear intentions. Sometimes
its leaders have argued that a nuclear capability would only com-
plicate relations with neighbors; at other times they claim posses-
sion of a regionwide deterrent.39 From the U.S. perspective, Iran’s
status as “the most active state sponsor of terrorism in the world”
makes its move toward a nuclear capability particularly threaten-
ing.40 Where the United States is concerned, rogue states and WMD
are indistinguishable from terrorists and WMD, and it is the nature
of the regimes proliferating, not the weapons, that count. Since
Iran’s policies “directly threaten US interests in the region and
beyond,”41 Iran would constitute a challenge on several levels.
The most abstract threat is to the non-proliferation regime itself.
A long-standing member either leaving the NPT or openly flouting
it would create doubts about the regime and set a precedent for
others. Iran’s withdrawal might serve as a catalyst and even a model
for others—the “tipping point” analogy.42 Weakening the NPT
regime by defecting from it and setting the stage for others to do so
would unravel the most important and universal arms control
treaty in existence and could result in regional arms races, shifts in
alliances, and further proliferation.
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Iran’s refusal to recognize Israel and its opposition to the peace
process puts it in a special category of states. Iran might seek to
confront Israel, or more likely, use Hezbollah to do so, while shel-
tering behind its nuclear capability. As John Bolton put it, “Their
repeated support for terrorism makes it particularly dangerous if
they were to acquire a nuclear weapon ... Whether they would use
it directly as the government of Iran or whether they would trans-
fer it to a terrorist group leaves us very concerned.” Bolton, how-
ever, argued the opposite in the case of Israel, suggesting that
Israel’s possible use of nuclear weapons was less a source of con-
cern, because it was less likely to do so as a democracy and ally of
the United States.43
A more direct threat would be the impact of a nuclear Iran on
U.S. security commitments. As President Bush suggested before
9/11, proliferators “seek weapons of mass destruction ... to keep
the United States and other responsible nations from helping allies
and friends in strategic parts of the world.” A nuclear Iran would
inhibit cost-free interventions, creating uncertainty and acting as a
The United States has been clear that an Iranian nuclear capa-
bility would throw a shadow over the area not least because Iran’s
policies “directly threaten US interests in the region and beyond.”45
President Bush observed, “We share the view that Iran’s acquisition
of nuclear weapons would be destabilizing and threatening to all
Iran’s neighbors.”46 John Bolton noted, “Iranian nuclear capabilities
would change the perceptions of the military balance in the region
and could pose serious challenges to the [United States] in terms
of deterrence and defense.”47
U.S. fixed bases in the region as well as access are already put
under threat by missile proliferation, and this would be magnified
by a nuclear Iran.48
U.S. officials also underlined that a nuclear Iran is destabilizing
not only to Iran’s neighbors but “for peace and security internation-
ally”; that the “pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and deliv-
ery systems makes Iran less secure and the region more unstable”;
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126 | Iran and Regional Security

that Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons might invite an attack from
another regional state; and that money would be better spent on
conventional means of offsetting superior US forces in the region.49
Another problem caused by a nuclear Iran is the context in
which this proliferation would take place—a region of instability,
competition, and recent conflict. Given the intersecting
rivalries—Arab–Iranian, intra-Arab, Sunni–Shiite, and national—
combined with the short distances involved, it would be difficult
to identify the source if any weapons are used. The risks of cat-
alytic war and indeed of the end of the taboo against nuclear
weapons use are most likely where extremism in the name of reli-
gion has become an identifying feature. Given this reality, even a
moderate and satisfied state would cause concerns in seeking a
nuclear capability. A nuclear Iran, if rent by domestic disorder,
might seek to burnish its leadership credentials through nuclear
brinksmanship.50 All of these are considerations that arise from
the prospect of a nuclear Iran. While their implications are not
well understood, the imperative to arrest any further movement
in that direction seems evident.
U.S. diplomacy has been slow and largely failed in mobilizing
Iran’s immediate neighbors, the states most directly affected by an
Iranian nuclear capability.51 The most visible effort, the visit of John
Bolton to the Persian Gulf in January 2005, was illustrative. Though
concerned (especially about possible environmental consequences),
none of the GCC states publicly denounced Iran’s nuclear program
or actively lobbied against it at the Review Conference. Coming
rather late, the Bolton visit underlined the liabilities of being asso-
ciated with a state that has lost moral authority as a result of Abu
Ghraib and credibility as a result of Iraq. The United States’ asso-
ciation with Israel (which possesses a large weapons inventory)
also made denunciation of the still embryonic Iran program prob-
lematic for the Arab states. This was to change, however, by the end
of 2005 as the protracted crisis over Iran’s nuclear program inten-
sified with the arrival of a more hard-line government in Tehran.
The Gulf states, concerned by Iran’s activities in Iraq, were more
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receptive when Secretary Rice undertook a similar (and this time
locally well received) visit to the Gulf in February 2006.
The United States has also tried and failed to impress on its new
strategic partner, India, the need to avoid major economic agree-
ments with Iran. New Delhi—which is increasingly dependent on
the Gulf for energy supplies, is currently negotiating a gas pipeline
from Iran, and considers Tehran an important, largely dependable
regional state—has demurred.52

Regional Responses

The most direct impact of a nuclear Iran will be on its immediate
region. Its neighbors will have to adjust to living in the shadow of
a nuclear-capable and missile-equipped Iran. These military capa-
bilities will aggravate already existing geopolitical disparities—
Iran’s demographic and geographical weight and the possible polit-
ical ascendance of the Shiite in the Gulf region. This comes at a time
of change in relations with the United States. In every state in the
region, the reputation of the United States has suffered, and
although reliance on the United States may continue, it is marked
by reluctance or by the absence of choice rather than enthusiasm.
Saudi Arabia’s and Turkey’s relations with the United States are
lacking their earlier warmth. Uncertainty about Iraq, about Iran’s
intentions, and about how to assure Gulf security is mixed with the
recognition that regional solutions are needed and that political
exposure vis-à-vis the United States is dangerous.
Riven by wars, transnational terrorism, and inherently cautious,
the regimes of the region have not taken a very active role in
response to Iran’s current programs. This is not because they are not
concerned. Rather, other more urgent issues like Iraq preoccupy
them. Nonetheless, silence cannot be taken for consent. The follow-
ing gives the broad outlines of likely regional responses rather than
detailed country-by-country reactions that are available else-
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128 | Iran and Regional Security

A flavor of the reactions to Iran’s programs is captured by two
responses in the Persian Gulf. A Saudi newspaper in 2003 observed
that nobody could believe that Iran sought nuclear weapons against
Israel or the United States: “The real target is the neighboring coun-
tries.”54 A Gulf Research Center report concluded that the GCC
and Arabs generally do not see Iran’s nuclear weapons program as
constituting “an instrument of deterrence, nor does it represent a
counterbalancing lever against Israel’s nuclear capabilities.”55
Since late 2005 the GCC states have become more vocal in their
opposition to the Iranian nuclear program. Initially careful to focus
on the environmental risks and on Israel’s nuclear weapons, they
are no longer inhibited from expressing concern about Iran’s pro-
gram. The Secretary-General of the GCC criticized the program,
and at the GCC summit in December 2005, the members refused
to emphasize the Israeli threat, focusing instead on Iran. Signifi-
cantly, the GCC now emphasized a Gulf WMD-free zone
(WMDFZ) as a first step toward a wider Middle East zone.56
Equally significant, Saudi Arabia has been less bashful about its
concerns, with both the crown prince and the foreign minister
clearly promoting a Gulf WMDFZ without making Israel’s disar-
mament a precondition.57
This recent vocal opposition to Iran’s nuclear program by its
neighbors serves notice on Tehran of the regional costs to be paid
for continuation of the program, apart from that which might come
from the Security Council.
A nuclear Iran will tilt the balance of the region away from the
Arabs; it must necessarily be a card for non-Arabs and Shiites. It
will challenge and complicate, if not end, U.S. hegemony, raising
questions about the wisdom of relying on the United States exclu-
sively. A nuclear Iran will seek to cash in on its new status to seek
hegemony and leadership in the wider Muslim world. A nuclear
Iran would seek to inhibit pro-Western-inclined Arab states. Such
an Iran may also seek to increase its influence in its immediate
neighborhood, in effect separating the Gulf–Arab states from those
further afield.
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Iran and Regional Security | 129

Broadly, the GCC states have several options. First, they could
seek to appease Iran, mollify it, bandwagon, meet its needs, and
procure security by joining it. This might include seeking to entan-
gle Iran in regional arrangements including trade and security. This
option accepts the limitations involved and prefers to rely on rather
than counter Iran.
Second, the GCC states could seek to balance Iran (that is, look
to a proximate or distant balancer). The United States is the only
contender for such a role. This would entail tightening ties with the
United States and seeking security guarantees and military links,
including a theater missile defense system. Such a decision would
be more attractive if Iran were considered a serious threat and if
there were confidence in a U.S. guarantee.
Third, the GCC states could acquire a countervailing capability
(that is, a national nuclear option). This may be an attractive
option, but few states in the region have such a capability. Fewer
still have a nuclear infrastructure they could set into motion to
acquire such a capability within even a decade. Choosing this
option would also risk relations with the United States. The alter-
native might be to seek nuclear weapons or the stationing of
nuclear weapons from a friendly power. Saudi Arabia is sometimes
cited as following this model with an assist from Pakistan and
already follows a policy of opacity in regard to IAEA safeguard
inspections. Saudi Arabia might also seek to buy or lease nuclear
warheads from Pakistan for its existing missiles or have them sta-
tioned on Saudi soil under Pakistani control (technically legal). It
is open to question whether Pakistan would be willing to guaran-
tee Saudi security or accept the costs of offending the United
Turkey’s response in this scenario is also uncertain given its weak
nuclear infrastructure. Moreover, Turkey’s political evolution is
uncertain, domestically, regionally, and internationally (with the
EU and the United States). Egypt, which considers itself the natu-
ral leader of the Arab world and puts considerable weight on its sta-
tus, has not had diplomatic relations with Iran for over a decade.
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130 | Iran and Regional Security

Any suggestion of the achievement of nuclear status by another
regional state—especially Iran—is bound to give rise to pressures
on Egypt to follow suit. This may be difficult given Egypt’s lack of
significant nuclear infrastructure. Also Cairo’s ties with the United
States (and Israel) would complicate any overt attempt to seek
nuclear weapons.
In general, the most likely short-term response of regional states
will be a tendency to hedge, while examining all these options.
A fourth possible approach for the GCC might be one of arms
control and attempts to realize the long-discussed WMDFZ. The
success of either of these, however, depends on political solutions
that are not apparent (for example, Egypt prefers to emphasize
Israeli nuclear weapons, whereas the GCC states focus on Iran’s
program). A grand bargain between the United States and Iran in
parallel with serious movement on the peace process front, how-
ever, could make at least progress on a regionwide approach to tack-
ling WMD more likely. But while Iran’s Arab neighbors are less
reticent in voicing their concerns about Iran’s program, a joint or
regional response, whether diplomatic or military, appears unlikely,
leaving the United States and Europe to do the heavy lifting.
The implications of a nuclear-capable Iran are serious but are not
seen as an imminent threat in a region beset by immediate crises.
None of these options look attractive to the states of the region.
Increased reliance on the United States (though not welcome) may
be the most practical. Some states may position themselves to
develop nuclear options, but none are well placed to do so in the
short term.

Israeli Response

Iran refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist. For the past decade
and a half Israel has been aware that the proximate existential
threats it faced have been displaced to the East. Israeli strategists
and the Israeli Air Force first talked of military strikes against Ira-
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nian nuclear installations in 1992.59 In the 1990s Israel saw Iran
rather than Iraq as the more serious threat, and believed that with
Baghdad contained, Iran would be free to pursue its programs
unobserved. Even the war with Iraq in 2003 took the spotlight off
the greater threat that Iran was beginning to represent. Israel sees
Iran as an implacable foe, unpredictable and shrewd, posing an
international rather than bilateral threat. Throughout the 1990s,
Israel was in the forefront of those seeking to sensitize President
Yeltsin’s Russia to the dangers from transfer of nuclear technology
to Iran. Its alarmism was deliberate, aiming to act preventively
before Iran became self-sufficient instead of waiting for Iran’s pro-
gram to reach the point of no return and become less subject to
influence from outside. The 2002 revelations of Iran’s nuclear pro-
gram therefore served as confirmation of Israel’s own estimates and
warnings over the previous decade.
An obvious feature of the Iranian program that causes particu-
lar concern for the Israelis has been its development of long-range
missiles configured apparently for specialized warheads. Iranian
slogans against Israel on missiles do nothing to reassure Israel about
Iran behaving responsibly. Of equal concern has been Iran’s attempt
to deploy its Russian-built submarines outside the Gulf and to pro-
ject power throughout in the region.60 Also of concern is Iran sup-
plying missiles to Hezbollah together with funding and the overall
strategic relationship, which might become more pronounced if
Iran were to acquire a nuclear capability.
A nuclear Iran raises a host of questions for Israel ranging from
Iran’s propensity for risk-taking to its attempts at extending deter-
rence to Hezbollah to its behavior and posturing in crises to its
possible attempts to sanctuarize itself with nuclear weapons while
continuing to support or upgrade support for rejectionist elements
and terrorists. Although reformists in Iran have questioned Iran’s
policy of being “more Palestinian than the Palestinians,” the regime,
and the new government in particular, shows no sign of reducing
support for hard-line Palestinians. Yet few Iranians consider the
Palestine issue one of national interest; at most it is an issue of
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132 | Iran and Regional Security

Muslim solidarity. Still, Tehran finds it expedient to magnify the
issue and demonize Israel. Israel therefore must anticipate the
Israel has responded to this threat in several ways. It insists that
Iran is an international issue first and foremost, and to that end it
coordinates its diplomacy closely with the EU-3, sharing intelli-
gence and estimates. It takes seriously Iranian threats of retaliation
inter alia against Dimona, in the event of a military attack on Ira-
nian facilities. Israel must necessarily consider and plan for the
possible need for preemption against facilities if all other alterna-
tives (diplomacy, sabotage, assassination) fail, which lends credence
to allegations of an Israeli presence in Northern Iraq and Israeli use
of Turkish airspace, given regular exercises.
Israel has also responded by moving its deterrent to sea. Dolphin
class submarines that can reach and navigate the Persian Gulf are
now part of a second-strike capability that makes Israel’s deterrent
more robust and survivable. The ARROW antimissile system con-
stitutes the other part of this upgrade.
Israel may consider moving from its opaque doctrine on nuclear
weapons to a more overt stance. A move from ambiguity to quasi-
public acknowledgment, intended to act as a deterrent to Iran,
could have the effect of putting greater (domestic political) pressure
on states like Egypt to follow suit.
Israel will have to initiate a strategic dialogue with Iran to clar-
ify redlines and avoid misunderstandings. For example, Iran will
need to know that Israel cannot accept the concept of limited
strikes. Given the experience of the Holocaust, any attack on Israel
will be met by a full-scale, devastating response about which there
should be no doubts (that is, there will not be proportional
responses). Iran needs to be disabused of any notion of using
numerical superiority or the geographical asymmetries of the region
to advantage.61
Unable to deal with it unilaterally, Israel has insisted that Iran’s
nuclear ambitions are, first and foremost, an international problem.
Israel’s main concern has been to keep the international spotlight
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Iran and Regional Security | 133

and pressure on Iran. This means close and frank coordination
with Washington. Israel’s primary concern is that focusing on esti-
mates of the dates at which Iran will be able to produce fissile
material (3 to 5 years) will obscure the point at which Iran will have
effectively achieved self-sufficiency regarding the fuel cycle. This
“point of no return” will make Iran less vulnerable to sanctions
and embargoes and will come before the date of actual production.
It is this earlier date that is salient for diplomacy. Israel, which will
be in the front line in the event of an Iranian nuclear capability, is
bound to influence policy and calculations.
As the country most affected and most able to respond quickly,
Israel’s response to Iran’s nuclear program is the most important in
the region. Israel must consider Iran’s refusal to recognize its right to
exist together with proxy war waged with it over two decades as an
existential threat. A nuclear Iran will complicate the regional strate-
gic landscape by raising the risks of major conflict at a time when
most instabilities in the region are transnational and domestic.
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I have argued that Iran’s nuclear ambitions reflect a broader Iranian
challenge to the Middle Eastern regional order. A nuclear capabil-
ity symbolizes Iran’s quest for regional leadership. It provides the
means to block a U.S.-inspired regional order, which is seen as
domineering, hegemonic, and imperial.1 Such an order is seen as
a threat to Iran and its pretensions to manage regional security.2 In
seeking to block it, Iran gives priority to its relations with Russia
and China. In joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (as
an observer), Iran joins an implicitly anti-NATO and anti-Western
grouping.3 Iran seeks a regional order in which outside powers are
excluded and in which it plays a leading role in the Caucasus, Per-
sian Gulf and broader Middle East, and parts of South Asia. As a
starting point, this strategy entails a reduction of the U.S. presence
and influence in the region.
Iranian leaders are in no doubt about the competition for
regional influence under way. President Ahmadinejad observed,
“They [the United States] want to silence us on the important issues
that are going on in the region and the world of Islam. They want
us to follow their discipline in our foreign policy.”4 His principal
security advisor boastfully noted the linkage between the nuclear
issue and regional politics: “They [the United States] are also con-

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Conclusion | 135

cerned that if Iran acquires nuclear technology the situation in the
region will be altered.”5 He has already hinted how: “With the
power it enjoys in the region, there is no way that Iran can be wor-
ried about the threat of the Security Council.”6 Meanwhile the
Guards Commander warns that Iran cannot be excluded from the
region and that Iran is “not merely a regional power” but “a major
power in the Middle East and the world.”7
Turmoil in the region, insurgency in Iraq with attendant uncer-
tainty about the outcome, combined with the prospect of a Shiite-
led state (in which Iran has significant influence and which
emboldens Shiites in neighboring Arab states) feeds a sense of
regional insecurity. In this context Iran’s ambiguous policies in Iraq
and strident rhetoric about Israel are amplified.8 Accordingly Iran’s
looming nuclear ambitions appear menacing. Relations with Saudi
Arabia are strained over Iraq, while Turkish analysts noting Iran’s
“activism” and grab for regional influence see a “new danger.”9 The
smaller Gulf states are preoccupied with terrorism and are not reas-
sured by Iran’s careless diplomacy. An Israeli analyst succinctly (and
accurately) notes that “Iran is striving to become an Islamic super-
power with hegemony over the greater Middle East,” which drives
the development of ballistic missiles and a nuclear capability.10
Since the arrival of the Ahmadinejad presidency, Iran’s policy on
the nuclear issue has hardened. The new team is more confronta-
tional by nature and more prone to brinksmanship. They are bol-
stered by a belief that Iran should align itself with Asia and are not
interested in the West or Western inducements. The strategic pic-
ture seen from their perspective has changed for the better over the
past two years. The United States is bogged down in Iraq, which
they believe takes the military option off the table. The EU is, or
will be, preoccupied with internal matters: elections, terrorism,
economies, immigration, and the future shape of the EU. The tight
energy market has given Iran a buffer of approximately $15 billion
in extra oil revenues for 2005. Moreover, the high price of oil
reduces the likelihood that any sanctions on Iran will include the
oil sector.
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136 | Conclusion

An alternative analysis would be less sanguine about Iran’s posi-
tion, focusing instead on the weakening of Syria, its principal ally,
the growing alienation of regional states, the knife edge on which
Tehran is poised in Iraq, where hurting the United States risks a
destabilization of the country and a prolonged civil war, the tenu-
ousness of any Russian–Chinese tilt toward Iran, and the necessity
for good relations with the EU, if not the United States.
Territorially, Iran is a status quo power, not an adventurist state.
Yet its opportunism, regime insecurity, and tolerance of ideological
militants, together with the shift in power to the Revolutionary
Guards, could see the emergence of less restrained policies. Iran’s
ambiguity on terrorism only increases suspicions about its reliabil-
ity. Tehran has yet to make the choice between radicalism and being
accepted (and treated) as a normal state. Iran continues to exploit
hostility toward Israel for leverage in the Muslim world and for
bargaining with the United States, yet it is of marginal importance
in terms of national, as opposed to regime–factional, interest.
At the same time, while fragile, the regime will not be threatened
by opposition, unless it comes from within the system. With strong
repressive institutions it can counter threats but cannot generate
enthusiasm and popularity except in the constituencies it favors
with patronage. Regime evolution, inevitable with generational
change, may take too long to be relevant as an answer to Iran’s
nuclear ambitions.
The wild cards in Iran today are the ultranationalists/Islamists
who would welcome a return to a state of siege and embattlement
and believe a nuclear capability is an answer for the lack of respect
afforded Iran. They are a minority of the elite, but they have intim-
idated the more internationalist leaders, who see interaction or
engagement with the world and the West as inevitable and neces-
sary for development, but who now have to debate the issues on
the conservatives’ terms.
Iran’s challenge to the international order is not a conventional
one that can be contained militarily or susceptible to easy co-
option. The challenge it poses is civilizational and ideological.
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Conclusion | 137

Whether it can be accommodated and whether its behavior and
goals can be tempered and changed remains unclear. I have argued
that Iran seeks to be recognized as a regional and even global
power. It wants to be taken seriously and its quest for nuclear sta-
tus reflects this impulse. However, there are elements currently in
office in Iran that appear to expect to achieve this on their own
terms without significantly changing their policies.
These policies are disruptive of regional order and could become
more so with a nuclear capability. Iran’s sense of grievance, its lack
of a natural regional constituency, which leaves it blocked diplo-
matically, and its self-absorption do not give rise to regionally
responsible behavior. Iran exploits strategic ambiguity, does little to
reassure its smaller neighbors, and nurtures and cultivates a pop-
ulist nationalism, rarely consulting or acting through institutions.
Iran’s regional policies in the Arab world are that of a spoiler or dis-
rupter, maximizing options and leverage for bargaining. Iran’s anti-
Americanism and hostility toward Israel are heartfelt and tactical, to
be exploited to promote Iran’s version of a regional order.
Some scholars have suggested that the starting point for a
nuclear agreement with Iran is “according Iran a guaranteed lead-
ing place in a Middle Eastern security order.”11 But this begs the
question whether Iran can be accommodated within the existing
system or whether it seeks to overthrow the system. Does it seek
greater recognition within or against the system? That depends on
which Iran you are speaking about.
Iran is seeking a nuclear capability, at least a weapons option, the
benefits of which it sees as prestige and domestic legitimation,
regional status, and a greater voice in international relations. The
strategic aspects are not principal, but with weak conventional
forces and missiles, a nuclear capability necessarily assumes more
importance. As a deterrent against U.S. regime change, a nuclear
capability has certainly increased in value since 2002, similarly as
a bargaining chip in any grand bargain.
Iran has no grand strategy to achieve this and has been impro-
vising tactically and defensively since its nuclear program was
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138 | Conclusion

uncovered.. Iran does not want nuclear weapons capability at the
cost of international isolation and setbacks for development, but
some may have convinced themselves that a fait accompli would
force others to accept it or that it has an “Eastern” option.
On the one hand, if Iran does not have a parallel clandestine
program of any significance (which is not the same as undeclared
facilities), then its current capabilities are still limited and rudi-
mentary and vulnerable to sanctions. On the other hand, isolation
and sanctions will only reinforce its interest in a nuclear capability.
The nuclear issue is an attempt by Iran to force the world to deal
with it on its own terms, rather than accommodate the terms
demanded by others. Iran wants technology and independence,
hostility to the United States and recognition/status.
The United States has handled the nuclear issue badly for over
a decade, acting as if sanctions could work in an era of globaliza-
tion. Its policies have left Tehran free to depict the issue as one of
technology denial. Most Iranians are concerned about bread and
butter issues but do not like being dictated to or discriminated
against.12 Influencing the debate in Iran a decade ago might have
been more useful, but there is still time to point to the difference
between sensitive and other technologies and to underscore that it
is the government’s behavior that raises concern, not the rights of
the Iranian people.
The current U.S. administration has insisted, stubbornly but
with some reason, that it is not weapons per se that are the prob-
lem but, rather, certain regimes. Iran after all is not Japan or Swe-
den. U.S. policy has fluctuated unclearly between regime change
and policy change. In essence, the aim of some in Washington
seems to be to get Tehran to choose between radical policies and
sensitive technology. So far Iran has held out for both. Neither con-
tainment nor sanctions have worked very effectively. Seeking to
moderate Iran’s behavior through engagement (and inducement)
has been the approach of the European states. U.S. policy has been
largely incoherent, consisting of bluster and bile mixed with opti-
mism about a spontaneous, imminent regime change. Since Febru-
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Conclusion | 139

ary 2005, when the United States joined its European allies in sup-
porting diplomacy, the chances of settlement have increased. Iran’s
summary rejection of the EU package offer in July may have had
more to do with the contents of the package than with distaste for
an overall settlement. A larger package deal or an across-the-board
agreement is unlikely, however, given Iranian fears about U.S. aims
(and a temporary sense of leverage) and U.S. political constraints.
In the absence of such an agreement, which would deal with all
the issues of concern on either side, a limited or technical agree-
ment on the nuclear issue appears more likely. This limited agree-
ment could take the form of giving Iran access to some parts of the
fuel cycle (such as conversion but not enrichment on any scale),
with the bulk of enrichment and return of spent fuel outside of the
country (possibly Russia, which is to provide the fuel for Iran’s first
reactor at Bushire on these lines). Such an agreement would cer-
tainly defuse the current crisis and give the international commu-
nity some breathing space. One defect of such an agreement,
however, is that if Iran has clandestine enrichment facilities, its
permitted conversion activities would unwittingly fuel its program.
Would Iran accept such an agreement? This depends on both its
immediate nuclear ambitions and its perception of the threat
involved in Security Council sanctions. Such an agreement sup-
ported by the IAEA, Russia, the EU, and the United States might be
difficult to reject because China and India would find it much eas-
ier to associate themselves with it.
Iran will continue to push for advantage, to slice away at exist-
ing constraints, and to make moves that restart its program with-
out providing enough justification for a strong or united
international response. Iran will insist on its willingness to continue
negotiations, perhaps in a different mode or forum, and on its
cooperation with the IAEA. At the same time, Iran has already
reduced cooperation with the inspectors, with possible withdrawal
from the NPT hinted at as a last resort. Iran’s calculation is that its
continued cooperation with the IAEA (however imperfect) is
preferable to the international community than the continuation of
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140 | Conclusion

its program without any inspections or monitoring. It may believe
a tight oil market increases its leverage, but in this it may prove mis-
taken. Playing to a domestic audience, while pushing for advantage,
has brought Iran into direct conflict with the international commu-
nity. Iran is now in a trap of its own making, finding it difficult to
give up what it has convinced its domestic audience is essential to
science and development, while failure to do so could jeopardize
its economic prospects and development. Iran may have underes-
timated the degree to which its behavior has antagonized its inter-
locutors and overestimated its own ingenuity to devise ways of
having its cake and eating it too. In turning down the EU-3 offer of
technology and a long-term relationship and insisting on an accel-
erated drive for enrichment, it scored an “own goal.”
I have suggested that a fix for the nuclear issue, however wel-
come, is not the end of the story. Iran’s behavior and its regional
ambitions are concerns that will not necessarily change. The pri-
mary aim of the regime is to stay in power. It is sensitive to power,
and when vulnerable, it will deal. Absent an external threat, it will
continue as in the past, opportunistic and reflexively hostile to the
United States and Israel. It will use the nuclear issue and foreign
policy to shore up its legitimacy. It will be regionally and globally
ambitious without the means to achieve such status. A nuclear
capability would certainly see Iran’s penchant for brinksmanship
elevated to new levels.
Tehran’s mantra about being discriminated against obscures the
degree to which Iran is the victim of its own behavior. Iran’s irre-
sponsibility, including unwillingness to assume responsibility for its
own acts, lies at the heart of international reluctance to allow the
emergence of a nuclear Iran. Iran still acts more like a revolution-
ary clique than a responsible government that recognizes respon-
sibilities as well as rights. A state deficient in a sense of
responsibility cannot be allowed control over dual-use technology.
A state that has elevated deniability to a new art form cannot be
trusted with nuclear weapons. A state that harbors and promotes
terrorists cannot reasonably be allowed WMD. A state that refuses
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Conclusion | 141

other states’ right to exist should not be permitted to acquire
weapons that may allow it to act on its rhetoric or encourage (or
enable) others to do so. A state with a rather vague and fluid sense
of international responsibilities in relation to international treaties
cannot reasonably be trusted with technology that needs to be lim-
ited by legislation to state parties.
The Iranian government is still so insecure in its legitimacy that
it is unsettled by the prospect of normalization with the United
States. It wants to claim democratic attributes without trusting
democracy; the contrast between its tight control of elections and
its rhetoric of the people’s participation (and choice) is stark. In its
refusal to dispense with the cult of victimhood, revolutionary rhet-
oric, and subversive acts and in its unwillingness to assume normal
relations with others lies the origin of the reluctance of others to see
Iran acquire a nuclear capability.

Policy Options

Iran’s nuclear program presents difficult policy choices for all the
players involved. Nuclear ambition is only part of a broader strate-
gic challenge posed by Iran. Therefore, any solution to the nuclear
issue is necessarily a partial one that needs, in time, to encompass
the broader threats posed by Iran’s ambition for regional hegemony.
Policy choices to deal with the nuclear issue are further constrained
by the debacle in Iraq and the consequent imperative to maintain
an international consensus.
By early 2006, the United States had recaptured the diplomatic
initiative. To do so, it had accepted Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear
technology (including the Bushire reactor) and perhaps even some
parts of the fuel cycle on Iranian territory. The United States had
also embraced the need for diplomacy, while outsourcing this to its
European allies. Washington had accepted Moscow’s proposal to
take enrichment from Iran to Russia as a potential means of keep-
ing Iran from the full fuel cycle. Above all the United States had
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142 | Conclusion

accepted the need to maintain an international consensus among
the Security Council members (and the IAEA Board of Governors)
on the issue. This approach implies a deliberate, slow pace, in
which the responses are graduated and pressure is ratcheted up and
taken sequentially, giving Iran time to reverse its course (ceasing
conversion and research activities and reinstating Additional Pro-
tocol inspections) pending a strategic decision to forgo the full fuel
The U.S. decision in March 2005 to back diplomacy has been
mixed. Support for the EU-3 has been a little grudging and skep-
tical but inevitable given Washington’s refusal to engage directly.
Supporting a broader multilateral consensus since September 2005,
the United States has accepted a more leisurely pace. However,
leaving the military option conspicuously on the table has been
useful in concentrating the minds of the UNSC members on the
need for diplomacy. The question remains whether multilateral
diplomacy and the authority of the Security Council will be enough
to get Iran to renounce its nuclear ambitions, and if not, what the
policy options would be thereafter. The United States needs to do
two things to strengthen the coalition to prevent Iran’s momentum
toward a nuclear option. First, it has to choose between nonengage-
ment and non-proliferation, that is, between its desire to achieve
the second without the first. Second, the United States needs to
couch any offer to Iran in general terms, to deal with the lacuna of
the NPT, rather than by ad hoc arrangements conceived individu-
ally (for example, in fuel assurance provisions).13
Broadly there are two policy options—engagement and regime
change—each with limitations:


Policy along these lines is designed to stop, delay, and reverse poli-
cies. Some believe that by freezing the program and buying time,
the Iranians may reconsider their policies or another government
might do so. This policy, which relies on diplomacy first adopted
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Conclusion | 143

by the EU-3 and then continued by a broader coalition, seeks to
convince Iran that the price for continuation of the quest for a
nuclear option is too high. Sanctions are part of this dialogue. So
are the incentives offered by the EU-3 in August 2005 in the pack-
age summarily rejected by Iran, a package now being renewed. In
exchange for renouncing sensitive technology and increasing its
transparency, Iran would be eligible for nonsensitive nuclear and
other dual-use technology and be given trade and other opportu-
For success this approach requires U.S. engagement and an Ira-
nian government sensitive to costs and isolation and willing to
make compromises and build trust. It implies a strategic decision
in Tehran to forgo a nuclear weapons option. It also requires a
combination of pressures and incentives that make such a decision
more compelling.
The Russian proposal currently exemplifies the strengths and
limitations of this approach. But an ad hoc technical fix, however
attractive for the immediate problem, does nothing for the broader
issue posed to the NPT regime by the potential proliferation of
enrichment capabilities. More important, it does not address the
key strategic issues of which the nuclear question is a part: Iran’s
broader role as a destabilizing force in the region opposed to the
United States.
A technical fix, however, could be part of a sequence of steps
that leads to a broader agreement that encompasses all aspects of
Iran–U.S. relations. Like others suggested, such as building on the
overlapping interests of Iran and the United States in Iraq, this
approach depends for success on a willingness of both parties to
engage with a view to an eventual grand bargain. In principle this
appears the most logical solution, but it comes up against several
obstacles. First, it is not self-evident that the driving force behind
the nuclear program is national security in the narrow sense and
therefore susceptible to security assurances. The current Iranian
government does not wish to bargain but seeks to attain its capa-
bility to deter while accentuating its leverage vis-à-vis the United
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144 | Conclusion

States. Moreover, like the government that preceded it, it is con-
vinced that any negotiation with the United States entails a slippery
slope, in which one U.S. demand follows another, ending only with
regime change. In May 2003 Iran was willing to negotiate such a
grand bargain, but a perceived change in the balance of power and
leverage, together with a new ideological government, makes a rep-
etition of this in the near term improbable.
If, as I have argued, Iran feels threatened by the United States
and seeks global recognition and domestic legitimation—and its
quest for a nuclear capability reflects all three of these
considerations—then the answer to its program is not technical or
partial but comprehensive. It is worth sketching out what such a
bargain might comprise.
Discussions dealing with specific issues of mutual concern such
as Iraq could be used as icebreakers, but they will soon run up
against the fact that everything in U.S.–Iran relations is related to
everything else. Thus, progress on Iraq (where interests objectively
converge) would be contingent on Iran being reassured about U.S.
intentions toward Iran after Iraq is stabilized. Similarly, the United
States would need to be reassured that Iran would change its pol-
icy against Israel and its support for terrorism, as well as forgo
nuclear weapons. The United States might offer Iran the following
incentives through an engagement policy:
• Full normalization of relations, including the lifting of
sanctions and unfreezing of assets; this implies recogni-
tion of the Islamic Republic as a legitimately constituted
• Provision of access to technology (including dual use,
with appropriate controls), conventional arms, and
• Security guarantees, both against regime change and neg-
ative security assurances regarding nuclear weapons use;
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Conclusion | 145

• Recognition of Iran’s legitimate security and political
interests and an end to efforts to contain Iran or otherwise
block its regional relationships.

In exchange for offering these measures, the United States would
insist that Iran:
• Renounce the closed fuel cycle and ratify the Additional
• Cooperate on the stabilization of Iraq;
• End support for terrorists of whatever stripe, for what-
ever cause;
• End hostility toward the peace process and Israel, which
implies any actions or rhetoric stimulating violence or
hatred going beyond the accepted practice of diplomacy;
• Initiate discussions with neighbors about mutual security,
including arms control with emphasis on missiles; and
• Perform better on human rights.

A grand bargain is unlikely as much due to U.S. reluctance as to
Iran’s. Washington today is unwilling to engage an “evil regime,”
giving it an undeserved legitimacy. Current U.S. policy, formulated
as policy change on the Libyan model, is in fact to support regime
opponents by extending radio broadcasts and assistance to NGOs
and students. This may reflect a decision to increase pressure on
Tehran rather than any realistic assessment of the regime’s vulner-
ability to externally assisted destabilization. If so, it is a renuncia-
tion of a policy that has some chance of working for one that has
virtually none.

Regime Change

If a technical fix only covers a narrow band of issues, indirect
engagement is an uncertain recipe, and direct engagement is unac-
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146 | Conclusion

ceptable, what remains? Regime change. Broadly, this approach is
ideologically convenient and conceptually attractive; in one fell
swoop repressive extremists are removed and with them the whole
range of problems between Iran and the United States. The military
option can be seen as a policy midway between engagement and
regime change in that it could result in either delaying the program
or acting as a precursor to regime change. However, although mil-
itary strikes might delay the program, they may also act to solidify
nationalist support and international sympathy for the regime,
which could in turn drive an accelerated program further under-
ground, blinding the international community as to its dimensions.
Furthermore, even if the regime were destabilized or changed, there
is no guarantee its successor would be less inclined to seek a
weapons option.
However, if the problem is as much one of regime as technology,
then a different regime, if more accountable, pluralistic, and trans-
parent, would certainly be an improvement. First, such a regime
would be more sensitive to its international standing and less insis-
tent on acting as an Islamic revolutionary role model. Second, its
moderation in foreign policy would give it less reason to seek a
weapons option or for others to fear it. Such a regime may emerge
in Iran spontaneously, but it also needs international encourage-
In the event that current diplomacy fails, other issues arise, or
Iran persists in its program, the United States will have to take the
lead in containing Iran diplomatically and deterring it from gain-
ing any benefit from an embryonic nuclear capability. This role
might entail a range of measures from security assurances to the
GCC states to theater missile defenses (TMD). Accentuating Iran’s
regional isolation through the weakening of Syria and the margin-
alization of extremist groups depends on the United States’ broader
U.S. policy choices for the immediate future revolve around the
diplomacy of persuasion. If the U.S. position in Iraq improves and
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Conclusion | 147

with it its leverage, Washington should seriously consider a grand
bargain. Even if this were proposed unilaterally and rejected by
Tehran, it would serve to educate American and other citizens to
the fact that the United States had gone as far as it could to settle
the broad range of contentious issues peacefully.
*ch7 conclusion 8/3/06 8:35 AM Page 148
*ch8 notes 8/3/06 8:35 AM Page 149



1. See Leonard Weiss, “Turning a Blind Eye Again?” Arms Control Today, March
2005, pp. 12–8; also David Albright and Corey Hinderstein, “Unravelling the AQ
Khan and Future Proliferation Networks,” Washington Quarterly, vol. 28, no. 2, May
2005, pp. 111–28.
2. This appears to confirm Brad Roberts’ comment a decade earlier: “The inher-
ently discriminatory character of non-proliferation mechanisms is incompatible
with an era in which technology, industrial capability, and expertise are slowly
spreading throughout the world. Permanent firebreaks between the haves and the
have-nots will only fuel the ambitions of the have-nots to acquire what they have
been denied.” See Brad Roberts, “Arms Control and the End of the Cold War,”
Washington Quarterly, vol. 15, Autumn 1992, p. 45.
3. See William Walker, “Weapons of Mass Destruction and International Order,”
Adelphi Paper no. 370 (London: Oxford University Press for IISS, 2004).
4. Philip Stephens, “Breakdown in the Nuclear Family,” Financial Times, May 13,
2005, p. 15.
5. The phrase is used by the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Threats,
Challenges, and Change that reported in 2004. It is repeated by Secretary-General
Kofi Annan, “In Larger Freedom: Decision Time at the UN,” Foreign Affairs, vol. 84,
no. 3, May/June 2005, p. 67.
6. Albert Wohlstetter, “Spreading the Bomb without Quite Breaking the Rules,”
Foreign Policy, no. 25, Winter 1976/1977, pp. 88–96, 145–79.
7. David Sanger, “Bush Seeks to Ban Some Nations from All Nuclear Technol-
ogy,” New York Times, March 15, 2005, http://www.nytimes.com.

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150 | Notes

8. Stephen Rademaker, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Statement
to 2005 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, New York, May 2,
2005, http://www.state.gov/t/ac/rls/rm/45518.htm.
9. For an excellent recent discussion, see Lawrence Scheinman, “Article IV of the
NPT: Background, Problems, Some Prospects,” in The Weapons of Mass Destruction
Commission Report, no. 5, June 2005, http://www.wmdcommission.org/files/
10. This was admitted by Hasan Rowhani recently in a speech at the Strategic
Studies Center of the Expediency Council in his reflections on his experience as well
as in the background of the crisis subsequently published as an article in the Iran-
ian quarterly journal Rahbod and the newspaper Etem’ad (Tehran), February 23,
2006, in BBC Monitoring, February 26, 2006.
11. For a striking comment to this effect, see Ephraim Sneh and Graham Alli-
son, “Nuclear Dangers in the Middle East: Threats and Responses,” Policy Watch no.
995 (Washington, DC: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, May 18, 2005). See
also Daniel Vernet, “Faut-il avoir peur de la bombe iranienne?” Le Monde, Septem-
ber 7, 2005, p. 15.
12. Kurt M. Campbell, Robert Einhorn, and Mitchell Reiss, eds., The Nuclear Tip-
ping Point: Why States Reconsider Their Nuclear Choices (Washington, DC: Brookings
Institution, 2004), p. 345. Einhorn and Campbell emphasize that the threshold to
a decision to acquire technology for the nuclear weapons option is high, requiring
determination and real effort.

Chapter One

1. Shahram Chubin, “Iran’s Strategic Predicament,” Middle East Journal, vol. 54,
no. 1 (2000).
2. See, for example, the senior Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani, who observed that the
basis for U.S. opposition to Iran’s nuclear program lay in its hostility to “the essence
of the Islamic revolution,” and that for this reason its pressures must be resisted res-
olutely to safeguard the revolution and the country. Quoted in “Qom Ayatollahs
Advise Minister on Domestic, Foreign Issues,” Iran (Tehran), September 25, 2005,
in BBC Monitoring, September 27, 2005.
3. Indian Foreign Minister Manmohan Singh commented at the UN that another
nuclear power in the neighborhood was not desirable. See Hindu, “Iran Downplays
Manmohan Singh’s Remarks,” September 18, 2005, http://www.hindu.com/the-
4. Antoine Dudalu, “Asia’s Alliance with the Middle East Threatens America,”
Financial Times, October 6, 2005, p. 15.
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Notes | 151

5. For background, see Shahram Chubin and Charles Tripp, “Iran-Saudi Arabia
Relations and Regional Order,” Adelphi Paper no. 304 (London: Oxford University
Press for IISS, 1996).
6. Thus, see Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s statement that “no policy can
be implemented in the region without taking account of Iran’s views.” “Khamene’i
Tells Commanders No Policy Made in Region without Iran,” Vision of the Islamic
Republic of Iran (IRI) Network (Tehran), vol. 1, October 13, 2004, in BBC Monitor-
ing, October 14, 2004.
7. The new chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani is a believer in raw power poli-
tics, arguing that threats to Iran can only be removed “when Iran is powerful. The
rest is small talk.” Quoted in “Iranian Negotiator Gives Press Conference on Nuclear
Issue,” Voice of Islamic Republic of Iran News Network (Tehran), September 20, 2005,
in BBC Monitoring, September 22, 2005.
8. Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani (until August 2005) quoted in Amir Taheri,
“Eye of the Storm: The Buzz in Tehran,” Jerusalem Post Online, May 19, 2005,
383.Hossein Mousavian also notes that far from feeling encircled Iran was given
leverage. See Najmeh Bozorgmehr, “Interview with Hossein Mousavian,” Financial
Times, February 3, 2005, p. 6.
9. George Perkovich, Joseph Cirincione, Rose Gottemoeller, Jon B. Wolfsthal,
and Jessica T. Mathews, Universal Compliance: A Strategy for Nuclear Security (Wash-
ington, DC: Carnegie Endowment, March 2005), p. 169.
10. See Hasan Rowhani, quoted in “Most Difficult Case,” Iran (Tehran), Febru-
ary 21, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, February 24, 2005; Information Committee
Director of the SNSC Ali Agha Mohammadi, quoted in “Official Says EU Aims to
Delay Nuclear Talks until After Iranian Elections,” Mehr News Agency (Tehran),
April 27, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, April 28, 2005; and Mohammad Saidi, Deputy
Director for Planning of the Atomic Energy Organization (AEO) for the Nationaliza-
tion Comparison, quoted in “Iran to Resume Nuclear Activities in Esfahan—Atomic
Official,” May 9, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, May 10, 2005
11. See, respectively, Ali Akbar Salehi, Ambassador to the IAEA, quoted in
“Envoy to IAEA Says Iran Enriching Uranium Takes ‘Positive View’ of NPT,” Iran,
July 27, 2003, in BBC Monitoring, July 28, 2003; and senior negotiator Hossein
Mousavian, in Bozorgmehr, “Interview with Hossein Mousavian,” p. 6.
12. Hasan Rowhani, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC),
stated: “Being a revolutionary does not mean we must discard everything and put
ourselves on the road to confrontation with the rest of the world.” Quoted in “Iran
Wants to Settle Its Nuclear Dossier at IAEA: Security Chief,” Mehr News Agency
(Tehran), March 10, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, March 12, 2005.
13. See Hasan Rowhani, quoted in “Iran Adopted Best Approach to Nuclear
Issue, Rowhani Tells Governors,” Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA) (Tehran),
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152 | Notes

November 18, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, November 19, 2004; and Hasan Rowhani,
quoted in “Iran Wishes to Continue Peaceful Nuclear Activities, Security Chief
Says,” Iran (Tehran), February 21, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, February 24, 2005.
14. Statement made by Rowhani, in “Iran Adopted Best Approach.”
15. See Hasan Rowhani, “Iran’s Security Chief Presents Report on NPT Protocol,”
Iran (Tehran), March 8, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, March 10, 2004.
16. The quote is from the former envoy to the IAEA, Ali Akbar Salehi, an MIT-
educated nuclear physicist. See “Ex-envoy Says Iran to Make Own Decision on Pos-
sible Nuclear Deal,” Hemayat (Tehran), August 31, 2004, in BBC Monitoring,
September 3, 2004.
17. I have elaborated on these issues at greater length in the following sources.
Shahram Chubin, “Whither Iran? Reform, Domestic Politics and National Security,”
Adelphi Paper no. 342 (London: Oxford University Press for IISS, 2002); Shahram
Chubin, Iran’s National Security: Intentions, Capabilities, and Impact (Washington,
DC: Carnegie Endowment, 1994) and citations therein.
18. For a recent expression of this, see Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani, who
alludes to the war with Iraq as a reason for Iran’s quest for military self-sufficiency.
Quoted in “Maximizing National Strength Is Our Agenda, Says Iranian Defence
Minister,” Mehr News Agency (Tehran), May 8, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, May 9,
2005. Supreme Leader Khamenei more colorfully argues that the blanket denial of
technology has led to Iran becoming self-sufficient and standing on its own two feet.
Quoted in “Iran: Khamene’i Tells Scientist Iran Should be Self-Sufficient,” Voice of the
IRI Network (Tehran), February 23, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, February 24, 2005.
19. See Khamenei’s Friday lecture for all of these and related points, quoted in
“Iranian Leader’s Friday Sermon Praises Country’s Progress, Denounces Israel,” Voice
of the IRI Network, November 5, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, November 6, 2004.
20. In running for president in May 2005, Hashemi Rafsanjani referred to “the
vast and powerful Iran” that can “find a distinguished and lofty standing among the
nations of the world, a status and standing which befits the civilized nation of Iran.”
Quoted in “Iran Press: Rafsanjani’s Statement Outlines Reasons behind Candidacy
Decision,” Iran, May 11, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, May 14, 2005.
21. Hashemi Rafsanjani told Hans Blix that “the mere signing of a ban on nuclear
weapons is not enough. In light of Iran’s experience with Iraq it was evident that
wherever the vital interests of a country were threatened, states could not obey
international regulations.” As summarized in FBIS-NES-90-216, November 7, 1990,
pp. 50–1.
22. See Khamenei, “Khamene’i Tells Commanders.” Other leaders share this
view as well. Former Revolutionary Guards commander Mohsen Rezai says that in
the next twenty years Iran would be the “centre of international power politics in
the region,” while former foreign minister and advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali
Akbar Velayati asserts that since returning to its Islamic identity, Iran has become
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Notes | 153

“the most powerful country in the Middle East.” See, respectively, “Iran to Play Key
Role in Regional Power Politics—Expediency Council Secretary,” IRNA, March 5,
2003, in BBC Monitoring, March 6, 2003; and “Velayati: Iran Most Powerful State
in Middle East,” IRNA, August 1, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, August 2, 2004.
23. Among many such statements, Khamenei said: “They are against progress in
any backward country.... The arrogance [of the United States] is so impudent that
it says that Iran does not need nuclear energy. What has this got to do with you?
What right do you have to determine whether or not a nation has the right to use
nuclear energy?” Quoted in “Leader Says Iran Will ‘Punch’ Anyone Who Threatens
Its National Interests,” Vision of IRI Network 1 (Tehran), May 1, 2005, in BBC Mon-
itoring, May 3, 2005. Iran has been saying much the same thing for the past ten
years. See Shahram Chubin, “Does Iran Want Nuclear Weapons?” Survival, vol. 37,
no. 1, Spring 1995.
24. See also Shahram Chubin, “Iran: The Lessons of Desert Storm,” unpub-
lished paper prepared for Los Alamos National Laboratory, November 1991;; Charles
Duelfer, report for corroboration of the lessons drawn by Iraq, Comprehensive Report
of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq’s WMD, 30 September 2004,
http://www.cia.gov/cia/reports/iraq_wmd_2004; David Johnston, “Saddam the
Deceiver: A Phoney Arms Threat,” International Herald Tribune, October 8, 2004; and
Evelyn Leopold, “Inspector Says Saddam Wanted to Bluff Iran on Arms,” Reuters
AlertNet, May 25, 2005. Iran’s emphasis on morale and improvisation in the Iraq war
also led to the cultivation of asymmetrical strategies, including the use of terrorist
proxies against the United States and France in Lebanon.
25. Quoted in Geoffrey Kemp and Selig Harrison, India and America after the Cold
War (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment, 1993), p. 20.
26. Rafsanjani stated: “We thought of building missiles only after we were hit by
them. We then started to build them from scratch.” Quoted in “Ex-president Says
Iran Can Launch Missiles with 2000-km Range,” IRNA (Tehran), October 5, 2004,
in BBC Monitoring, October 6, 2004. See also Chubin, Iran’s National Security.
27. This was a lesson allegedly drawn by the North Koreans. See Philip Goure-
vitch, “Letter from Korea: Alone in the Dark,” New Yorker, September 8, 2003, p. 68.
Respected experts such as Lawrence Freedman also suggested that this was the les-
son of Iraq for other proliferators: “The only apparently credible way to deter the
armed forces of the U.S. is to own your own nuclear arsenal.” See Lawrence Freed-
man, “A Strong Incentive to Acquire Nuclear Weapons,” Financial Times, April 9,
2003, p. 15.
28. This is a continuing theme of the military. See, for example, Revolutionary
Guards Commander Rahim Safavi quoted in “Iran: Guards Commander Says the
Corps Is to Receive More Research Funding,” ILNA (Tehran), December 15, 2004,
in BBC Monitoring, December 16, 2004; and “Iran’s Guards Commander Stresses
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154 | Notes

Importance of Persian Gulf Security,” ISNA (Tehran), January 6, 2005, in BBC Mon-
itoring, January 7, 2005.
29. Mohsen Rezai, quoted in “Iran: Senior Official Sure U.S. Will Attack Iran—
Financial Times,” IRNA (Tehran), June 21, 2002, in BBC Monitoring, June 22, 2002.
30. See, for example, the comments of the Deputy Guard’s (IRGC) commander,
Brigadier General Mohammed Bager Zolgadr, quoted in “Commander Says Iran
Will Not Tolerate U.S. Presence in Region,” Fars (Tehran), January 10, 2005, in BBC
Monitoring, January 11, 2005. Also Admiral Abbas Mohtaj, Commander of the
Iranian Navy, quoted in “Foreign Forces in Persian Gulf Present Threats to Iran, Says
Navy Chief,” ISNA (Tehran), January 12, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, January 13,
2005; and Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani, quoted in “Maximizing National
Strength Is Our Agenda, Says Iranian Defence Minister,” Mehr News Agency
(Tehran), May 8, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, May 9, 2005.
31. See the discussion by a hard-line Iranian paper: “Iran Says American Nuclear
Policy Threatening World Peace,” Resalat (Tehran), March 16, 2002, in BBC Moni-
toring, March 25, 2002; and Hashemi Rafsanjani, quoted in “Iran: Rafsanjani Says
U.S.A. Could Use Nuclear Weapons against 7 Countries,” Vision of the IRI Network
1 (Tehran), March 10, 2002, in BBC Monitoring, March 12, 2002; and “Iran: Raf-
sanjani Says Circumstances Will Change If Israel Accepts Arab Decision,” Voice of the
IRI Network (Tehran), March 29, 2002, in BBC Monitoring, March 30, 2002. In June
2002 Rafsanjani observed that “America is now talking very arrogantly to the world
and by creating an ‘axis of evil’ order, is threatening any adverse country with
nuclear bombs.” Quoted in “Iran: Former President Rafsanjani Says U.S.A. ‘Hege-
monic Policies’ Would Fail,” IRNA (Tehran), June 27, 2002, in BBC Monitoring, June
28, 2002. For a report on U.S. appropriations of $27 million for mini-nukes, see
“Plans for Nuclear Bomb Proof of U.S. New Outlook to Global Security—Iran TV,”
Vision of the IRI Network 1 (Tehran), February 2, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, Febru-
ary 3, 2005.
32. “Iran: Rafsanjani says Tehran Ready to Cooperate if There Is Change in U.S.
Policy,” Voice of the IRI Network (Tehran), June 21, 2002, in BBC Monitoring, June
22, 2002.
33. Hashemi Rafsanjani, quoted in “Iran: Rafsanjani Says Washington Changing
Tone after Failure of U.S.-Inspired Riot,” Voice of the IRI Network (Tehran), August
1, 2003, in BBC Monitoring, August 2, 2003.
34. Hossein Mousavian, quoted in “Iran Senior Official Says U.S., Israel Will Not
Attack Nuclear Installations,” ISNA (Tehran), August 2, 2004, in BBC Monitoring,
August 2, 2004.
35. See Ali Akbar Dareini, “Iran: Uranium Enrichment Plant Underground,”
Associated Press, http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=558596.
36. Shamkhani stated that even a limited attack “will be regarded as an attack
against the existence of the Islamic republic of Iran.” Quoted in “Minister Says U.S.
Incapable of Military Attack against Iran,” ILNA (Tehran), July 22, 2004, in BBC
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Notes | 155

Monitoring, July 23, 2004. Brigadier General Mohammed Bager Zolgadr is quoted
as saying that “Iran will not recognize any limit on defending itself...and will come
down on the aggressor anywhere that it wills.” See “Commander Says Attack on Iran
Will Not Stay within Iranian Borders,” FARS (Tehran), January 26, 2005, in BBC
Monitoring, January 27, 2005; the Commander of the IRGC, Yahya Rahim Safavi,
threatened U.S. forces, in Al-Jazeera.net, March 3, 2005; a March 29, 2005, Al Hayat
report noted the threat to target U.S. bases in the region (translated by Middle East
Media Research Institute, http://memri.org/). On the United States having no
monopoly on preemption, see Ali Shamkhani’s comments reported in “Iran Warns
of Preemptive Strike to Prevent Attack on Nuclear Sites,” DOHA, August 18, 2004;
and Associated Press, “Iran Hints at Preemption over U.S. Threat,” International
Herald Tribune, August 20, 2004, 5.
37. See Thom Shanker, “Pentagon says Iraq Effort Limits Ability to Fight Other
Wars,” New York Times, May 3, 2005, http://nytimes.com/2005/05/3/politics/03 mil-
38. See Sarah Chayes, “The Riots in Afghanistan: With a Little Help from Our
Friends,” International Herald Tribune, May 27, 2005, p. 8.
39. It is clear that Iran seeks to use the vulnerability of the United States and the
United Kingdom in Iraq as a pressure point on the nuclear issue. See British allega-
tions of Iran’s supply of explosives to anti-British forces in southern Iraq through
Hezbollah. See Christopher Adams and Roula Khalaf, “UK Accuses Iran over Iraqi
Rebels,” Financial Times, October 6, 2005, p. 5; and Christopher Adams and Edward
Alden, “U.S. and UK Warn Iran and Syria on Terror,” Financial Times, October 7,
2005, p. 5.

Chapter Two

1. Mohsen Rezai, Secretary of the Expediency Council, quoted in “Iran: Senior
Official Comments on Ties with U.S., Majlis Polls, Nuclear Program,” Website
(Tehran), August 18, 2003, in BBC Monitoring, August 18, 2003.
2. See Mohammad Hossein Adeli, Iran’s UK Ambassador, quoted in “Iran Has a
Right to Develop Nuclear Power,” Financial Times, February 18, 2005, p. 13. Accord-
ing to one Iranian official, unchecked domestic consumption is caused by price sub-
sidies that entail waste on the order of $5 billion annually. See “Official Says Iran
Energy Waste Five Billion Dollars,” IRNA News Agency (Tehran), June 19, 2004, in
BBC Monitoring, June 19, 2004.
3. The figures vary between 7,000 and 10,000 megawatts of electricity and ten
to twenty reactors. See “Iran Experts Say Nuclear Power Necessary for Electricity Gen-
eration,” Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 1, June 13, 2004, in BBC Mon-
itoring, June 14, 2004; Chairman of the Majles Energy Committee quoted in “Majlis
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156 | Notes

Deputy Says Iran Needs Nine More Nuclear Power Plants,” Voice of the IRI Network
(Tehran), October 25, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, October 26, 2004; and “Iran Majlis
Studying Proposals on Construction of 20 Nuclear Power Plants—MP,” Mehr News
Agency (Tehran), January 30, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, February 1, 2005.
4. Deputy Head of AEO Mohammad Saidi, quoted in “Nuclear Energy Top Pri-
ority in Iran’s Nuclear Program—Official,” IRNA (Tehran), March 22, 2005, in BBC
Monitoring, March 23, 2005; and Elaine Sciolino, “Iran and the US Have One Thing
in Common,” International Herald Tribune, March 23, 2005, p. 4.
5. Not all observers are unsympathetic. University of California–Los Angeles
Chancellor and nuclear expert Albert Carnesale has asked: “If you were building a
nuclear power plant would you want to rely on Russia to provide the fuel for the
next thirty years regardless of what your diplomatic relations were?” Leslie Evans,
“UCLA Chancellor Carnesale on the Risks of Nuclear Attacks on the United States,”
UCLA International Institute, Los Angeles, May 18, 2005, http://www.isop.ucla.edu/
6. Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s former IAEA envoy, quoted in “Envoy Says Iran Needs
10 Years to Produce Good Nuclear Fuel,” ISNA (Tehran), October 7, 2003, in BBC
Monitoring, October 7, 2003.
7. Mohammad Saidi, Deputy Head of the AEO, quoted in “Natanz Complex
Achievement of Iranian Experts,” IRNA (Tehran), March 30, 2005, in BBC Monitor-
ing, March 31, 2005; and “Iran Press: On West’s Opposition to Iran’s Nuclear Fuel
Cycle,” Afarinesh (Tehran), May 14, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, May 25, 2005.
8. Hashemi Rafsanjani, quoted in “Ex-President Says Iran Not Seeking War, Ready
to Negotiate,” IRNA (Tehran), April 29, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, April 30, 2005.
9. Rowhani has said the world must accept Iran’s entry into the global nuclear
club, while Rafsanjani has said that Tehran expects to become a member of the
club of countries possessing nuclear technology. Quoted, respectively, in “World
Must Accept Iran’s Entry into the Nuclear Club—Hasan Rowhani,” Vision of the IRI
Network 1 (Tehran), March 7, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, March 8, 2004; and “Raf-
sanjani Says Iran Expected to Join Club of Nuclear States,” IRNA (Tehran), Decem-
ber 3, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, December 4, 2004.
10. “Iran Press: Linking Nuclear Case and ‘Holy Defence Week of Iran-Iraq
War,’” Jomhuri-ye Eslami (Tehran), September 27, 2005, p. 1, in BBC Monitoring,
September 29, 2005.
11. See Hasan Rowhani, quoted in “Iran: National Security Council Secretary
Calls for Greater Global Interaction,” Vision of the IRI Network 2, March 13, 2003, in
BBC Monitoring, March 15, 2003; Hashemi Rafsanjani, quoted in “Iran: Rafsanjani
Says Iran Does Not Want Nuclear Weapons,” IRNA News Agency (Tehran), Septem-
ber 8, 2003, in BBC Monitoring, September 9, 2003; and Ali Khamenei, quoted in
“Khamene’i Tells Prayer-Leaders Iran Does Not Possess Nuclear Weapons,” Voice of
the IRI Network (Tehran), October 6, 2003, in BBC Monitoring, October 7, 2003.
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Notes | 157

12. According to Rowhani, Iran is eighth in a list of thirteen states capable of
manufacturing equipment needed in producing nuclear fuel. Quoted in “US Should
Not Terrify World over Iran’s Nuclear Activities—Security Chief,” IRNA (Tehran),
March 8, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, March 9, 2003. On the same theme of pride in
the achievements, one Iranian commentator stated: “Today the same nation that was
called barbarian by the West is proud and dignified and is one of the ten to fifteen
countries that can run their native nuclear technology.” See “Iranian Commentary
Says Fundamentalism Part of Anti-Globalization Movement,” Keyhan (Tehran), Jan-
uary 30, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, February 2, 2005.
13. Ali Khamenei, “Leader Says US, Europe Aim to Hinder Iran’s Scientific Devel-
opment,” Vision of the IRI Network 1 (Tehran), March 3, 2005, in BBC Monitoring,
March 4, 2005.
14. The first comment is that of former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, and
the second is that of current Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi. Quoted in “Former
Iranian Foreign Minister Says Europe Not to Be Trusted, Blair ‘Bankrupt,’” Jomhuri-
ye Eslami Website (Tehran), November 8, 2003, in BBC Monitoring, November 8,
2003; and “Iran’s Kharrazi Says America ‘Wise Enough’ Not to Attack Iran,” IRNA
(Tehran), March 1, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, March 2, 2005.
15. There was a 20 percent fall in stocks between mid-July and October of
2005. For hard-line Jomhuri-ye Eslami (Tehran) reaction, see “Iran: Editorial Urges
Government Action over ‘Ailing’ Stock Exchange,” October 10, 2005, p. 1, in BBC
Monitoring, October 13, 2005. A Western source put the plunge at 30 percent
since late September 2005. See Nazila Fathi, “Iran’s Stocks Plunge after Vote for UN
Review of Nuclear Program,” New York Times, October 9, 2005.
16. Bennett Ramburg argues that nuclear tension generates support for a failing
regime, which might welcome confrontation as “political salvation.” See Bennett
Ramburg, “Dealing with Iran 11,” International Herald Tribune, March 24, 2005.
17. For three such poll references, see “Iran Commentator Says ‘Enemies’ Will
Accept Iranian Demands over Nuclear Issue,” Voice of the IRI Network (Tehran),
October 18, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, October 20, 2004; “Daily Says IAEA Case
Aimed at ‘Preoccupying’ Iran, Deceiving Public,” Siyasat-e Ruz (Tehran), November
29, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, December 14, 2004; “Iran Made ‘Impressive’ Progress
in Nuclear Technology, Says Spokesman,” Mehr News Agency (Tehran), January 14,
2005, in BBC Monitoring, January 15, 2005. Hasan Rowhani referred to access to
nuclear technology as a “national demand” to his Japanese counterparts. Quoted in
“No Government in Iran can Forgo Nuclear Technology—Senior Negotiator,” Mehr
News Agency (Tehran), May 11, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, May 12, 2005.
18. For a critique on lack of information, see “Iran Daily Urges Government to
Inform Public on Nuclear Dossier Talks,” Aftab-e Yazd Website (Tehran), March 5,
2005, in BBC Monitoring, March 6, 2005; see also the interview of Ray Takeyh by
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158 | Notes

Bernard Gwertzman, Council on Foreign Relations, March 2, 2005,
19. Interview by Edmund Blair, “Tough Nuclear Choices Face Iran’s Next Pres-
ident,” June 14, 2005, http://www.swisspolitics.org/en/news/index.php?
20. For a discussion, see Farideh Farhi, “To Have or Not to Have? Iran’s Domes-
tic Debate on Nuclear Options,” in Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Options: Issues and Analy-
sis, ed. Geoffrey Kemp (Washington, DC: Nixon Center, 2001), pp. 35–54; Shahram
Chubin and Robert Litwak, “Debating Iran’s Nuclear Aspirations,” Washington Quar-
terly, vol. 26, no. 4, Autumn 2003; on the national pride in the program, see also
George Perkovich, “For Tehran, Nuclear Program Is a Matter of National Pride,” Yale
Global Online, March 21, 2005, http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/article.print?id=5448.
21. For intraregime differences, see Safa Haeri, “Iran, US: Fissures within Fis-
sures,” Asia Times, http://www.atimes.com/atimes/printN.html; Kenneth Pollack and
Ray Takeyh, “Taking on Tehran,” Foreign Affairs, March/April 2005, http://www.for-
22. For striking parallels with Iran between conservatives and realists in North
Korea divided at the time of the Agreed Framework, see Joel Wit, Daniel Poneman,
and Robert Galluci, Going Critical: The First North Korean Crisis (Washington, DC:
Brookings Institution, 2004), pp. 75–6.
23. In the view of reformist Mohammad Reza Khazemi, leader of the main
reform party and brother of outgoing President Khatami, see “Taboo of US Relations
Turned on Its Head,” Iran Mania, June 8, 2005, http://www.iranmania.com/News/
24. See, respectively, Mostafa Moin’s speech to the Ghazvin Medical University,
quoted in “Moin: If Elected as President, I Will Stop the Uranium Enrichment,” Key-
han, April 19, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, April 21, 2005; Mohsen Rezai, quoted in
“Iran Presidential Candidate Reza’i Says He Will Resume Nuclear Enrichment,”
Vision of the IRI Network 1 (Tehran), June 5, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, June 6, 2005;
Ali Larijani, “Presidential Candidate Larijani Calls for Nuclearization of Iran,” Vision
of the IRI Network 1 (Tehran), June 2, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, June 4, 2005. Lar-
ijani characterized the Tehran agreement between Iran and the EU-3 in October
2003, which postponed referral of Iran’s nuclear file to the UNSC in exchange for
suspension of fuel cycle activities, as the lamentable exchange of “candy for a pearl.”
25. Mohammad Bager Qalibaf, quoted in “Iran Election Program: Qalibaf Hints
at Developing Ties with USA,” Vision of the IRI Network 1 (Tehran), June 4, 2005, in
BBC Monitoring, June 5, 2005.
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Notes | 159

26. “Conservatives Will Win Iranian Presidency if Rafsanjani Does Not Run—
Rowhani,” Mehr News Agency (Tehran), February 2, 2005, in BBC Monitoring,
February 3, 2005.
27. For the five postelection pledges to the nation, see “Iran Press: Rafsanjani
Outlines Five Post-Election Pledges to Nation,” Iran (Tehran), May 31, 2005, in BBC
Monitoring, June 2, 2005; and “Iran Election Program: Rafsanjani Announces Man-
ifesto,” Vision of IRI Network 2, May 31, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, June 1, 2005. For
the evolution of Hashemi Rafsanjani toward pragmatism and national interest, see
Sana Vakil, “Reformed Rafsanjani Could Be Force for Change,” Financial Times, June
16, 2005, p. 13.
28. “Iran Press: Daily Says Next President Must Promote Nuclear Technology
Firmly,” Jomhuri-ye Eslami (Tehran), May 15, 2005, pp.1–2, in BBC Monitoring, May
18, 2005.
29. Ali Larijani referred to the desire to keep Iran an industrial backwater and a
pattern of denial of advanced information as well as biological and nanotechnology.
Ari Larijani, interview, Financial Times, January 23, 2006, p. 4.
30. For a hard-line newspaper view, see “The Nature of Political Crises and
Iran’s Nuclear Problem,” Jomhuri-ye Eslami (Tehran), December 1, 2005, in BBC
Monitoring, December 28, 2005.
31. Reformist Ahmad Shirzad presents a thoughtful discussion along these lines,
noting that Iranians need to define “what is it that [they] require from the outside
world and ... what sort of system and regime do [they] wish to be?” Quoted in “Iran
Press Criticizes Government’s Use of ‘Threats’ in Foreign Policy,” E’temad (Tehran),
December 25, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, January 5, 2006.
32. See “Critics of Nuclear Policy Must Be Allowed to Express Views,” Aftab-e
Yazd, December 3, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, December 14, 2005.
33. The conservatives believe that an enhanced nuclear capability would affect
this regional role and that “the enemy would not like Iran to play such a role.” See
Hasan Rowhani, quoted in “Iran Needs to Counter ‘Multi-Dimensional’ Threat from
West,” IRNA, January 14, 2006. On the impact of an advanced nuclear program in
the region, Rowhani comments: “They [the United States] believe that Iran’s stand-
ing will change in the region if it acquires the capability to enrich uranium,” some-
thing they wish to prevent. Quoted in “Iran’s Regional Standing Is Source of Concern
to USA—Former Security Chief,” Iran Fars News Agency (Tehran), December 15,
2005, in BBC Monitoring, December 16, 2005.
34. For some, the interlude between the Iran–Iraq war and the current period
has resulted in backsliding in foreign policy, which is seen as the renunciation of the
export of the revolution. See Naser Bahramirad, “Foreign Policy: Active or Inactive?”
Keyhan, December 18, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, December 21, 2005. For back-
ground on the new conservative government, see Ali Gheissari and Vali Nasr, “The
Conservative Consolidation in Iran,” Survival, vol. 47, no. 2, Summer 2005, pp.
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160 | Notes

175–90. Also Kazem Alamdari, “The Power Structure of the Islamic Republic of
Iran,” Third World Quarterly, vol. 26, no. 8, 2005, pp. 1285–1301. For the back-
ground to the Isargaran, the political party supporting Ahmadinejad, see William
Abbas Sami’I, “The Changing Landscape of Party Politics in Iran—A Case Study,”
Vaseteh: The Journal of the European Society for Iranian Studies, vol.1, no.1, Winter
35. For press analysis sympathetic to this view, see “Iran Daily Supports
Ahmadinejad’s ‘Active’ Diplomacy,” Keyhan, January 7, 2006, in BBC Monitoring,
January 11, 2006; unattributed commentary. “We Have Preconditions,” Jomhuri-ye
Eslami, December 29, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, December 30, 2005; “Daily Says
Iran ‘Great Opportunity for Europe’ in Nuclear Talks,” Tehran Times, December 20,
2005, in BBC Monitoring, December 21, 2005.
36. Larijani made these comments to IRGC commanders. Quoted in “Larijani—
Now Is the Time for Resistance,” Farhang-e Ashti, November 30, 2005, in BBC Mon-
itoring, December 12, 2005. On Iran’s geopolitical position, see “Iran’s Security
Chief Explains Tehran’s Nuclear Strategy in TV Interview,” Vision of IRI Network 2
(Tehran), January 1, 2006, in BBC Monitoring, January 3, 2006.
37. “US Firms Not Welcomed to Join Iran’s Enrichment Plan—Larijani,” Mehr
News Agency, December 13, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, December 14, 2005.
38. Larijani in September 2005 press conference, quoted in Nazila Fathi and
Michael Slackman, “Iran’s President Rolls Back Clock,” International Herald Tribune,
December 21, 2005, p. 4.
39. Indicative of this was Larijani, who argued that Iran was the key to the area
for Russia, which has other more important regional concerns than nuclear prolif-
eration. See Ali Larijani, quoted in “Iran’s Security Chief Explains Tehran’s Nuclear
Strategy in TV Interview,” Vision of IRI Network 2 (Tehran), January 1, 2006, in BBC
Monitoring, January 3, 2006. Larijani was clearly and explicitly corrected by Russ-
ian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who pointedly rebutted this assertion, noting
that for Russia non-proliferation took precedence over any bilateral considerations
or economic advantages in relations with Iran. See International Herald Tribune, “EU
Nations Want Iran Taken to the UN,” January 13, 2006, pp.1–4.
40. “Iran’s Rafsanjani Defends Nuclear ‘Right,’ Calls for Prudence,” Vision of IRI
Network 1 (Tehran), January 11, 2006, in BBC Monitoring, January 12, 2006; and
“New Government Depicts ‘Harsh Image’ of Iran—Rowhani,” Fars News Agency
(Tehran), November 15, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, November 17, 2005.
41. “Rafsanjani Warns US against Military Attack on Iran,” Voice of the IRI Net-
work (Tehran), September 30, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, October 1, 2005.
42. President Ahmadinejad is quoted as saying: “Some individuals are disgrun-
tled because they can no longer gain access to the State Treasury. They therefore seek
excuses by raising other issues [alleging] ... that the government is ignorant of con-
ducting foreign policy.” See “President Calls on ‘Monopolizers of Power’ to Step
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Notes | 161

Aside,” Voice of IRI Network (Tehran), December 1, 2005, in BBC Monitoring,
December 2, 2005. See also A. Savyon, “The Second ‘Islamic Revolution’: Power
Struggle at the Top,” MEMRI, no. 253, November 17, 2005.
43. See Michael Slackman, “In Iran, Dissenting Voices Rise on Its Leaders
Nuclear Strategy,” International Herald Tribune, March 16, 2006, p. 4; and Karl Vick,
“In Iran, Even Some on the Right Warning against Extremes, Conservative Factions
Fear Radicalism,” Washington Post, March 27, 2006, p. A11.
44. For a useful if broad discussion, see Amir Ali Nourbaksh, “Iran’s Foreign Pol-
icy and Its Key Decisionmakers,” Tharwa Project, April 18, 2005, http://www.thar-
temid=0; and Mohsen Sazegara, “Iran: Toward a Fourth Republic?” Policy Watch no.
1001 (Washington, DC: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2005).
45. “Iranian Paper Views Delay to Nuclear Deal with Russia, ‘Snub’ to UK,” Iran
(Tehran), February 27, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, February 28, 2005; Hashemi Raf-
sanjani, quoted in “Ex-President Rafsanjani Says Iran Will Not Submit to Bullying
on Nuclear Issue,” ISNA (Tehran), September 15, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, Septem-
ber 16, 2004. One Iranian commentator said that “one must accept that the nuclear
file is one that is entirely national and ultimately related to the country’s national
security.” See “Iran Press: Commentary Says Iran’s Nuclear File ‘National Challenge,’”
Iran (Tehran), April 6, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, April 14, 2005.
46. For example, negotiator Hossein Mousavian commented: “Now it is time [for
Europe] to deliver something to Iranian public opinion and nation.” Hossein Mousa-
vian, interview by Najmjeh Bozorgmehr and Daniel Dombey, Financial Times, Feb-
ruary 3, 2005, p. 10.
47. Hossein Mousavian, quoted in “Iranian Negotiator, Legislator Comment on
Nuclear Dossier,” Aftab-e Yazd Website (Tehran), April 13, 2005, in BBC Monitoring,
April 14, 2005. An article in Resalat asserted that “Anyone who takes over in this
election will not want to move against the peoples’ interest and the people will not
allow him to do so either.” See “Iran Press: On Characteristics Required of Next Pres-
ident,” Resalat (Tehran), May 22, 2005, p. 1, in BBC Monitoring, May 25, 2005.
48. See Foreign Minister Kharrazi’s comment on May 4, 2005, in Dafna Linzer,
“Iran Says Nuclear Plans on Hold: Leaders Are Frustrated, But Still Hope for Progress
in Talks,” Washington Post, May 5, 2005, p. A22. For a British diplomat’s observa-
tion on how hard-line pressure translates into tough rhetoric in the negotiations, see
Roger Wilkison, “EU Diplomats: Iran Risks Sanctions for Nuclear Activity,” Voice of
America, May 10, 2005, http://www.voanews.com/english/archive/2005-05/2005-
49. See Gareth Smyth, “Nuclear Dispute Boosts Critics of ‘Great Satan’ in Iran
Poll,” Financial Times, March 21, 2005, p. 7; and Gareth Smyth and Daniel Dombey,
“EU3 Warns of ‘Managed Crisis’ over Iran Ambitions,” Financial Times, May 1, 2005.
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162 | Notes

50. For Rowhani’s take on the unbalanced nature of the commitments, see “Iran
to Definitely Resume Part of Its Nuclear Activities in ‘Near Future,’” IRI News Net-
work (Tehran), May 12, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, May 14, 2005. On the costs of
suspension and technical problems caused, see AEO head Reza Aghazadeh, quoted
in “Iran’s Atomic Energy Chief Says Suspension of Uranium Enrichment Problem-
atic,” ISNA (Tehran), December 12, 2003, in BBC Monitoring, December 12, 2003.
On the retention of personnel indispensable for further progress in the nuclear area,
see Reza Aghazadeh, “Iranian Officials Discuss Ways to Retain Nuclear Scientists,”
Sharq website (Tehran), December 16, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, December 20,
2004; and Mohammad Khatami, “President Khatami Says Iran Ready to Produce
Fuel for Nuclear Plant,” Voice of IRI Network (Tehran), March 31, 2005, in BBC
Monitoring, April 1, 2005.
51. See the discussion of one nuclear expert, quoted in “Cessation of Iran’s
Enrichment Program Not an Option—Agency,” Baztab Website (Tehran), March 30,
2005, in BBC Monitoring, April 1, 2005.
52. Hossein Shariatmadri is quoted as saying: “Whatever is going to happen after
five years of suspension is going to happen now.” And the right wing prefers to with-
draw from the NPT altogether. See Scott Peterson, “Mixed Signals on Iran’s Nuclear
Program,” Christian Science Monitor, June 14, 2005, http://www.csmonitor.com/
53. For a critique of Iran’s dysfunctional rhetoric and negotiating style, see “Iran
Reformist Criticizes Iran Officials for Policy toward EU,” Aftab-e Yazd (Tehran),
October 16, 2004, pp.1, 2, in BBC Monitoring, October 18, 2004; and “Daily Urges
Iranian Officials to Make Prompt Nuclear Decision,” Aftab-e Yazd (Tehran), Febru-
ary 21, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, February 22, 2005.
54. For a useful analysis, see Farideh Farhi, “Iran’s Nuclear File: The Uncertain
Endgame,” Middle East Report Online, October 24, 2005, http://www.merip.org/
55. These revelations were picked up in the West. See Mousavian’s comments
about a “dual strategy” reported in “Iranian Ex-Envoy Says Country Used ‘Dual
Strategy’ in Nuclear Talks with EU,” Die Welt, Berlin, August 18, 2005, in BBC Mon-
itoring, August 19, 2005; and Rowhani’s statement about “cooperating to a mini-
mum extent, in order to suspend our activities as little as possible.” See Robert
Nolan, “Iran and the EU-3,” Foreign Policy Association, August 4, 2005,
56. For an exception, see Gareth Smyth, “Call for Openness over Nuclear Pro-
gram,” Financial Times, October 14, 2005, http://financialtimes.printthis.clickabil-
57. For example, such technical fixes might include fuel guarantees, limited
numbers of centrifuges in stages, or multinational schemes for enrichment. See
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Notes | 163

Brent Scowcroft and Daniel Poneman, “An Offer That Iran Cannot Refuse,” Finan-
cial Times, March 9, 2005, p. 13; and Tim Guldiman and Bruno Pellaud, “A Plan to
Bring about Nuclear Restraint in Iran,” Financial Times, June 27, 2005, p. 15.
58. Gary Milhollin, testimony before Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Sen-
ate, May 19, 2005, http://www.iranwatch.org/Gary/sfr-milhollin-051905.htm. For
more details on the intrusiveness of the inspections that would require “anyplace,
anytime, anywhere” access, see http://www.iranwatch.org.
59. This proposal has floated around the negotiations and is well presented by
Joseph Cirincione, interview by Bernard Gwertzman, Council on Foreign Relations,
June 6, 2005, http://www.cfr.org.
60. U.S. President George W. Bush, speech delivered at the National Defense
University (NDU), Washington, DC, February 11, 2004. Note, however, that the
Bush approach is selective; it tolerates new enrichment by Brazil but not by Iran.

Chapter Three

1. I am indebted to Shai Feldman for emphasizing this.
2. This narcissism is visible in debates in Iran that often appear to reflect the
belief that the whole world is concentrated on watching Iran and its development
and to exaggerate the importance of Iran to others. President Ahmadinejad’s speech
to the United Nations in September 2005 seemed to be intended for a domestic
audience and showed a misreading of what General Assembly speeches are about.
3. Notably, Iran’s current urgent insistence on an enrichment capability for its
power generation program is by no means a necessity, especially when the first
reactor at Bushire is not yet operational. A second 40-megawatt heavy water reac-
tor in Arak is “larger than needed for research but too small to make electricity and
just right for producing bomb-quality plutonium.” See Gary Milhollin, Director of
the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, testimony before the Committee
on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, May 19, 2005. See also the evidence compiled in
Bureau of Verification and Compliance, “Adherence to and Compliance with Arms
Control, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments”
(Washington, DC: U.S. State Department, 2005), pp. 72–80. Iran’s insistence on the
full fuel cycle makes little sense if it is intended to avoid dependence, for Iran will,
in any case, need to import the raw uranium, which it does not possess in any
quantity. The fact that the program was undeclared also suggests an illegal intent.
4. The IAEA has documented Iran’s experiments with polonium, a specialized
material that can serve as a neutron initiator in fission bombs. Iran is also known to
have sought high-precision switches that can trigger a nuclear explosion.
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164 | Notes

5. Besides the questions relating to origin of the contamination of some sites and
full history relating to P1 and P2 centrifuge technology, for the first time the IAEA
noted unanswered questions about the “role of the military” in this peaceful program
and documents “related to the fabrication of nuclear weapons components.” See
IAEA Director-General, “Implementation of the Nuclear Safeguards Agreement in
the Islamic Republic of Iran,” GOV/2006/15 (Vienna: IAEA, Board of Governors,
February 27, 2006), paras. 18, 19, and 38.
6. Apparently it was the first time there was a bomb design available on the open
market. See William J. Broad and David E. Sanger, “Unraveling Pakistan’s Nuclear
Web: Inquiry into Khan Hobbled by Discord and Concern over Ally,” International
Herald Tribune, December 27, 2004, p. 11. U.S. officials are all but certain that Iran
received the same bomb designs as Libya: “We assume that the Iranians got what the
Libyans got. Can we prove it? Not yet.” David Sanger, “U.S. Demand Deepens Gulf
with Iran over Nuclear Facilities,” New York Times, http://nytimes.com/2005/05/03/
international/middle east/03npt.html. Iranian leaders have carefully distinguished
their purchases from that of Libya, saying that Iran sought only the parts but not the
design for the production of bombs. “Had we attempted to develop nuclear arms,
we would also have tried to attain the design for the bomb,” stated Hasan Rowhani.
Quoted in “Chief Negotiator Says Iran Has Not Imported Nuclear Parts,” IRNA
News Agency (Tehran), June 2, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, June 3, 2004. The clear
implication is that if proof of Iran’s acquisition of these bomb plans comes to light,
it would constitute the smoking gun regarding Iran’s weapons intentions.
There are many summaries of Iran’s nuclear program apart from the eight IAEA
reports (since February 2003). Seven of these reports can be found in the British
Foreign Office document. Besides the IISS dossier, the most authoritative and com-
prehensive analyses include those by the Federation of Atomic Scientists (FAS) and
Tony Cordesman (2004). For periodic assessments, see Sharon Squassoni, “Iran’s
Nuclear Program: Recent Developments,” CRS Report for Congress (Washington,
DC: Congressional Research Service, March 4, 2004); Esther Pan, “Iran: European
Nuclear Negotiations” (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, April 14, 2005),
http://www.cfr.org/publication/8075/iran.html. See also Ephraim Asculai, “Taking
Stock of Iran’s Nuclear Program,” Tel Aviv Notes, JCSS no. 128, March 8, 2005. See
also the interview with Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator, Hasan Rowhani, who stated,
“Technologically, [Iran has] obtained the nuclear fuel cycle.” Rowhani said that Iran
has the capacity, relying on its own uranium mine and resources, to turn the ore into
yellowcake, to convert the yellowcake into UF4 and UF6, and to enrich the UF6
through centrifuges to a level of 3.5 percent. In the zirconium plant in Isfahan, Iran
can turn the enriched uranium into tablets that will be used as fuel for reactors.
Therefore, if Iran wants to produce fuel for a reactor, it has all the means, from the
ore stage to turning the enriched material into tablets and inserting them into fuel
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Notes | 165

rods. See MEMRI, TV Monitor Project, Clip no. 412, December 7, 2004, http://mem-
7. Sirus Naseri, Iranian nuclear negotiator, interview, quoted in “Iran to Put For-
ward Final Nuclear Proposal in Less than Three Months—Negotiator,” Vision of IRI
Network 2 (Tehran), March 13, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, March 16, 2005.
8. U.S. intelligence on Iran’s program is known to be deficient, “scandalously”
so, according to one source. See the report on U.S. intelligence by Laurence Silber-
man and Charles Robb, “Data Is Lacking on Iran’s Arms, U.S. Panel Says,” New York
Times, March 9, 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/09/international
/09weapons.html. Estimates, then, vary among analysts: see International Institute
for Strategic Studies, Iran’s Strategic Weapons Programs: A Net Assessment (London:
Routledge, 2005); Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby, Director of Defense Intelligence
Agency, “Current and Projected National Security Threats to the U.S.,” testimony
before Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, February 16, 2005. For a later dis-
puted estimate of a longer, ten-year period, see Dafna Linzer, “Iran Is Judged Ten
Years from a Nuclear Bomb,” Washington Post, August 2, 2005, p. A01; and Steven
Weissman and Douglas Jehl, “Estimate Revised on When Iran Could Make a Nuclear
Bomb,” New York Times, August 3, 2005.
9. Tony Cordesman has said that “there is virtually no technical justification for
building them unless you are going to put a nuclear warhead on them.” Interview
with Tony Cordesman, VOA News, May 20, 2005, http://www.voanews.com/eng-
lish/2005-05-20-voa62.cfm. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell indicated that U.S.
intelligence had information that Iran sought to adapt its missiles for the delivery
of nuclear weapons (December 2004). U.S. sources indicate their interception under
the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) of dual-use missile technology bound for
Iran. Davis Sanger, “U.S. Shares Details on Efforts to Intercept Weapons Technology,”
International Herald Tribune, June 1, 2005, p. 4. President Bush alluded to a dozen
interceptions of missile-related technology to Iran under the PSI. See President
George W. Bush, speech delivered at National Endowment for Democracy, October
6, 2005, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/10/20051006-3.html.
10. See the discussion in Shahram Chubin, “Whither Iran? Reform, Domestic
Politics and National Security,” Adelphi Paper no. 342 (London: Oxford University
Press for IISS, 2002).
11. Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani, quoted in “Missile Technology Most Impor-
tant Part of Iran’s Military Deterrent—Minister,” Mehr News Agency (Tehran), Feb-
ruary 26, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, February 27, 2005. Sometimes missile
technology is used as a metaphor. Shamkhani has suggested that Iran would mass
produce missiles like a popular automobile (the Peykan) and that “the production
of the Shihab-3 will never stop. There is [a] Shihab-3 missile embedded in every
Iranian.” Quoted in “Minister Says Iran Not Targeting U.S. Power Facilities,” ILNA
(Tehran), May 5, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, May 6, 2005.
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166 | Notes

12. Iran reported success in a test of a solid-fuel missile, which would increase
their range and improve their shelf life. See “Iran Tests New Missile Using Solid-Fuel
Technology—Agency,” IRNA (Tehran), May 31, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, June 1,
2005. See also “Iran Reports Gain in Test of Missile Fuel,” New York Times, June 1,
2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/01/international/middleeast/01iran.html.
13. Iran acknowledges possessing a maritime cruise missile program. See Robert
Hewson, “Iran Ready to Field Cruise Missile,” Janes Defence Weekly, February 25,
2004, p. 13.
14. See Chubin, “Whither Iran?” Iran also emphasizes short-range missiles such
as anti-ship missiles for defense in the Gulf. Iran is reported to have purchased
cruise missiles from Ukraine in 2004.
15. See International Herald Tribune, “Iranians Test Missile with Multiple War-
heads,” April 2006, p. 5; and “Iran Claims New Success with Underwater Missile,”
April 3, 2006, p. 10.
16. Iran has indulged in diplomatic ploys deflecting pressure away from its mis-
sile program by asking the UN Secretary-General for reports on “missiles in all their
aspects” for two consecutive years. Iran has not joined the Hague Code of conduct
regarding missiles. Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi justified Iran’s need for missiles
for defense purposes but added that “ours are not for first use.” Quoted in “Iran
Wants Sanctions Lifted before ‘Rigorous’ Inspections of Nuclear Sites,” Star (Johan-
nesburg), July 22, 2003, in BBC Monitoring, July 22, 2003.
17. Dov Raviv, father of the Israeli Arrow project, has suggested this response.
Ha’aretz (Tel Aviv), June 4, 1998, in BBC ME/3246MED/7, June 6, 1998.
18. The U.S. government reportedly has documented evidence suggesting that
Iran is attempting to develop a nuclear weapon payload for its medium-range Shi-
hab-3 missile. The United States shared this information with the IAEA. See “U.S.
Gives IAEA Info on Iranian Missile Capable of Carrying Nuclear Warhead,” Wall
Street Journal, July 27, 2005, p. A3. See also “Washington accuse L’Iran d’etudes sur
un charge nucleaire pour missile,” Le Monde, October 11, 2005, p. 6.
19. Nur Pir-Mozen, a Majles Deputy and nuclear specialist, observed that after
many years and repeated questions about the technological situation and after the
expenditure of millions of dollars, “we still do not know what has been going on in
Bushire for the past thirty years.” Quoted in “Majles Deputy Questions Spending on
Nuclear Power Plant,” Mardom-Salari (Tehran), October 5, 2005, p. 11, in BBC
Monitoring, October 7, 2005.
20. Quoted in Judith Yaphe and Charles Lutes, “Reassessing the Implications of
a Nuclear Iran,” McNair Paper no. 69 (Washington, DC: National Defense Univer-
sity, 2005), p. 6.
21. See also Bill Sami’i, “The Military-Mullah Complex: The Militarization of
Iranian Politics,” Weekly Standard, May 14, 2005; and Mohsen Sazegara, “The New
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Notes | 167

Iranian Government: Resurrecting Past Errors,” Policy Watch no. 1013 (Washing-
ton, DC: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, July 2005.)
22. Notably, they paraded captured British troops, who had allegedly strayed into
Iranian territory in a provocative manner, blindfolded, reminiscent of the U.S.
embassy hostages. Later they closed a new airport that they believed should not be
under contract to a Turkish company that might have had ties with Israel.
23. For speculative comments on chain of command and “safety culture,” see
Gregory Giles, “The Islamic Republic of Iran and Nuclear, Biological and Chemical
Weapons,” in Planning the Unthinkable, ed. Peter Lavoy, Scott Sagan, and James
Wirtz (Ithaca/London: Cornell University Press, 2000), pp. 98–103.
24. For a recent discussion, see Daniel Byman, “Confronting Syrian-Backed Ter-
rorism,” Washington Quarterly, vol. 28, no. 3, Summer 2005, pp. 99–113,
esp.101–03, 108, 110–11.
25. Paul Bracken, “The Second Nuclear Age,” Foreign Affairs, vol. 79, no. 1, Jan-
uary/February 2000.
26. See Sara Daly, John Parachini, and William Rosenau, “Aum Shinrikyo, Al
Qaida, and the Kinshasa Reactor: Implications of Three Case Studies for Combat-
ing Nuclear Terrorism” (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Project Air Force, 2005).
27. See The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on
Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (New York: W.W. Norton, 2004), p. 334.
28. Bush, speech to the National Endowment for Democracy, October 6, 2005,
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/10/20051006-3.html.. Bush said
that the United States would make no distinction between those who committed acts
of terrorism and those who supported them, referring to Iran and Syria.
29. See, for example, Robert McMahon, “U.S. Says Iran ‘Most Active’ State Spon-
sor of Terrorism,” RFE/RL, April 28, 2005, http://www.rferl.org/featuresarti-
30. Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), “Iran: Weapons Proliferation, Terrorism and
Democracy,” opening statement of Committee on Foreign Relations Hearing, Wash-
ington, DC, May 19, 2005, p. 1, http://foreign.senate.gov/testimony/2005/
31. The quote from a Homeland Security report is found in Eric Lipton, “A
Rosier View of Terror-List Nations,” International Herald Tribune, April 1, 2005, p. 5.
32. For a discussion and citations, see Chubin, “Whither Iran?” For a similar
view, see “Iran’s Terrorist Sponsorship: Winding Down?” IISS: Strategic Comments,
vol. 11, no. 2, March 2005.
33. Matthew Levitt, “Iranian State Sponsorship of Terror: Threatening U.S. Secu-
rity, Global Stability and Regional Peace,” testimony before Joint Hearing of Com-
mittee on International Relations, Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central
Asia and Subcommittee on International Terrorism and Non-Proliferation, U.S.
House of Representatives, February 16, 2005, http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/
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168 | Notes

html/pdf/Iran-Testimony-2-16-05.pdf. See also, Bill Sami’i, “A Look at Iran’s Spon-
sorship of Terror Groups,” http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticleprint/2005/01/
34. See Economist, “Lebanon: Time for Syria to Go,” February 26, 2005, p. 10.
35. Velayati was personally indicted by a German court in the Mykonos case.
E’temad Website (Tehran), May 1, 2005. Hezbollah official Seyyed Mohammad Bager
Kharrazi, quoted in “Iran’s Hezbollah Leader Warns to Set World Ablaze, No Place
Safe for Americans,” Farhang–e Ashti, January 31, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, Febru-
ary 1, 2005.
36. Allison Graham, Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe (New
York: Times Books, 2004), p. 120.
37. See 9/11 Commission Report, pp. 47–70, 240–1. See also Economist, “Still
Haunting America,” July 24, 2004, pp. 38–9.
38. Iranian officials argue that this was not their aim and that the decision to
keep Al Qaeda members under house arrest and close surveillance in Iran was
meant to keep them as hostages and a warning to Al Qaeda not to target Iranian
cities. Author’s interviews with Iranian officials, Geneva, May 2005. More plausible
in my view is the explanation noted earlier of “keeping options open” for bargain-
ing, together with the strong influence of hard-liners in the Security apparatus.
39. British allegations echo one by the United States a month earlier. See Christo-
pher Adams and Roula Khalaf, “UK Accuses Iran over Iraqi Rebels,” Financial Times,
October 6, 2005, p. 5; and Alan Cowell, “Blair Suspects Iran Aids Insurgents,” Inter-
national Herald Tribune, October 7, 2005, p. 4.
40. See Judith Yaphe and Charles Lutes, “Reassessing the Implications of a
Nuclear Iran,” McNair Paper no. 69 (Washington, DC: National Defense University,
2005), p. 41.
41. See Chubin, “Whither Iran?” See also Paula DeSutter, Denial and Jeopardy:
Deterring Iranian Use of NBC Weapons (Washington, DC: National Defense Univer-
sity, Center for Non-Proliferation Research, 1997), pp. 67–8. DeSutter suggests that
a U.S. response should be to “deny Iran ambiguity”; see pages 85–6.
42. According to Porter Goss, “Iran continues to retain in secret important mem-
bers of Al-Qai’da—the Management Council—causing further uncertainty about
Iran’s commitment to bring them to justice.” Porter J. Goss, Director of Central
Intelligence, “Global Intelligence Challenges 2005: Meeting Long-Term Challenges
with a Long-Term Strategy,” testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intel-
ligence, February 16, 2005, http://www.cia.gov/cia/public_affairs/speeches/2004/
43. See, for example, the excellent discussion between Scott Sagan and Ken
Waltz, The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A Debate Renewed (New York: W.W. Norton,
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Notes | 169

44. Pakistan’s tacit support for Kashmiri terrorist attacks on India seems to have
increased with nuclear weapons.
45. Giles, “Islamic Republic of Iran,” p. 103. Giles contrasts the offensive view
with that of civilians in Iran who see them as deterrents. The view of the IRGC as
an aggressive element is supported by Paula DeSutter. See DeSutter, Denial and Jeop-
ardy, pp. 19–24
46. For an example, see Chubin, “Whither Iran?” pp. 48–51. Another case
occurred in 2002 when General Zolgadr of the Guards threatened to destabilize the
Persian Gulf if the United States threatened Iran, only to be interrogated by reformist
parliamentarians about the wisdom of threatening neighbors that Iran was seeking
to cultivate as friends.
47. The comments were made by Ali Larijani, quoted in “Iran Accepts Negoti-
ation Offers from Any Country, Top Nuclear Official,” IRNA (Tehran), September 27,
2005, in BBC Monitoring, September 28, 2005; and “Nuclear Chief Says U.S. Dis-
honesty on Nuclear Issue Clear for Iran,” Siyasat-e Ruz (Tehran), October 3, 2005,
p. 1, in BBC Monitoring, September 10, 2005. They were echoed by AEO head Reza
Aghazadeh, who threatened escalation in the region, warning that referral to the
UNSC “initiates a chain of actions and reactions that escalate tension and adds
volatility to an already vulnerable situation in the region.” Quoted in “Iran’s Aghaz-
adeh says UN Referral Would Escalate Mideast Tensions,” IRNA (Tehran), Septem-
ber 26, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, September 27, 2005.
48. Tony Cordesman makes the point directly, suggesting that Iran’s conventional
capabilities are “obsolescent.” See Stefan Nicola, “Expert: Iran Nukes Replace Old
Military,” United Press International, May 20, 2005. In 1993, Iran’s Defense Minis-
ter Akbar Torkan observed that Iran’s defense budget of $850 million was one-
twentieth of that of Saudi Arabia. See Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Tehran),
April 14, 1993, in BBC ME/1664A/8, April 16, 1993.
49. A question posed by a Western official vis-à-vis Iran in relation to this case.
Quoted in Steve Coll, “Nuclear Crisis Extends Well Beyond Korea,” International
Herald Tribune, June 27, 1994, p. 1/4.
50. For sources specifically relevant, see Rob Litwak and Kathryn Weathersby,
“The Kims Obsession: Archives Show Their Quest to Preserve the Regime,” Wash-
ington Post, June 12, 2005, p. B01; Paul Bracken, “Nuclear Weapons and State Sur-
vival in North Korea,” Survival, vol. 35, no. 3, Autumn 1993, pp. 137–153; Joseph
Bermudez Jr., “The DPKR and Unconventional Weapons,” in Lavoy, Sagan, and
Wirtz, Planning the Unthinkable, pp. 183, 189–90. See also Andrew Mack, “North
Korea Isn’t Playing Games, It Wants the Bomb,” International Herald Tribune, June 3,
1994 (not a bargaining chip but insurance for the regime). The South Korean Min-
ister of Unification, Chung Dong Young, quoted Kim as saying: “If the regime secu-
rity is guaranteed, there is no reason to possess a single nuclear weapon.” See
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170 | Notes

Norimitsu Onishi, “Kim Jong Il Signals Readiness to Resume Nuclear Arms Talks,”
International Herald Tribune, June 18/19, 2005, p. 5.
51. For references, see Chubin, “Whither Iran?”
52. Farideh Farhi, “To Have or Not to Have? Iran’s Domestic Debate on Nuclear
Options,” in Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Options: Issues and Analysis, ed. Geoffrey Kemp
(Washington, DC: Nixon Center, 2001).
53. See quote from an anonymous policy advisor to a senior cleric, in Richard
Russell, “Iran in Iraq’s Shadow: Dealing with Tehran’s Nuclear Weapons Bid,” Para-
meters, Autumn 2004, p. 3, http://carlisle-www.army.mil/usawc/Parameters/
54. “Former Guards C-in-C Says Cooperation with EU Undermined Iran’s ‘Deter-
rent,’” ISNA (Tehran), November 24, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, November 25,
55. Amir Mohebbian of the Resalat newspaper, quoted in International Crisis
Group, “Iran: Where Next in the Nuclear Standoff,” Middle East Briefing, November
24, 2004, p. 10. This newspaper often refers to the existence of a “nuclear
56. Iranians focus on Israel’s nuclear capability but curiously do not note that the
“massive imbalances in military capabilities” come not from nuclear weapons but
disparities in conventional capabilities. See Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Director-General,
Foreign Ministry, remarks given at Second Moscow International Non-Proliferation
Conference, Moscow, September 20, 2003, http://www.ceip.org/files/projects/
57. Ali Khamenei, quoted in Voice of IRI Network (Tehran), August 6, 2003, in
BBC Monitoring, August 8, 2003.
58. Rowhani also noted that while WMD had no place in defense doctrine,
there is a place for such detailed discussions and that “these discussions have been
held.” Hasan Rowhani, quoted in “Iran’s Top Security Official Warns U.S.A. against
Attack,” Vision of IRI Network 2 (Tehran), February 7, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, Feb-
ruary 9, 2005.
59. The principle that any directive can be reversed on the grounds of expedi-
ency or necessity (maslahat) undermines the strength of this argument. See Kamal
Kharrazi, “Iran’s Nuclear Program: We Are Not Building a Bomb,” International Her-
ald Tribune, February 5–6, 2005, p. 4. See also Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid
Reza Asefi, quoted in “Iranian Spokesman Says Use of Nuclear Weapons Religiously
Forbidden,” Vision of IRI Network 1 (Tehran), September 12, 2004, in BBC Monitor-
ing, September 13, 2004.
60. “Iranian Security Chief Interviewed by Al-Jazeera on Nuclear File, Iraq,” Al-
Jazeera TV (Doha), June 19, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, June 22, 2004. However, the
argument does appear rather carefully crafted for his regional audience. General
Shamkhani made a similar argument earlier: “The existence of nuclear weapons
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Notes | 171

will turn us into a threat that could be exploited in dangerous ways to harm our rela-
tions with the countries of the region,” quoted in Takeyh, “Iran Builds a Bomb,”
p. 57.
61. “Iran: Rowhani Says Leader Opposed to Acquiring Nuclear Weapons,” IRNA
News Agency (Tehran), October 25, 2003, in BBC Monitoring, October 26, 2003.
62. “Nuclear Arms Detrimental to Iran’s National Interest: Defence Minister,”
IRNA website (Tehran), February 7, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, February 8, 2005.
Shamkhani added that Iran signed the NPT, respects the safeguards agreements, and
wants a nuclear-free zone (NFZ) in the Middle East.
63. Ali Akbar Salehi, “Nuclear Weapons Will Not Bring Prestige to Iran, Top Offi-
cial Says,” Iran Daily (Tehran), June 9, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, June 10, 2004.
64. For a counterconventional and persuasive discussion, see Zeev Maoz, “The
Mixed Blessing of Israel’s Nuclear Policy,” International Security, vol. 28, no. 2, Fall
2003, pp. 44–77.
65. “Hardline Daily Says Iran Must Complete Nuclear Plant,” Keyhan, August 8,
2002, in BBC Monitoring, August 10, 2002; and “Iran: Editorial Says Nuclear
Weapons Best Deterrence against Nuclear Powers,” Jomhuri-ye Eslami (Tehran),
November 8, 2003, in BBC Monitoring, November 10, 2003.
66. “A Short History of the Nuclear Bomb and Nuclear Parity,” Iran (Tehran),
December 13, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, December 30, 2004.
67. Nuclear weapons account for 10 percent of France’s overall defense budget,
and 20 percent of the equipment portion of the defense budget. Bruno Tertrais,
“Case Study on France,” paper presented to the workshop on “Governing Nuclear
Weapons,” Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF),
Geneva, October 3, 2004.
68. See Hossein Mousavian, quoted in “Iran Security Official Says Nuclear Talks
Eased Concern of Possible Conflict,” ISNA (Tehran), December 21, 2004, in BBC
Monitoring, December 24, 2004. For an example, see Sirus Naseri, “Iran Has Mas-
tered the Fuel Cycle and This Cannot Be Turned Back under any Circumstances,”
Mehr News Agency (Tehran), November 9, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, November
10, 2004. Since the mid-1990s, the United States and Israel have exaggerated how
advanced Iran’s capabilities are in order to limit it before it reaches the point of no
return. Iran has exaggerated its progress for reasons of pride, nationalism, and gar-
nering domestic capital. Mousavian’s comment appears apt because by talking up
the issue, the time and space left for compromise are decreased and misused.
69. This is consistent with Iran’s strategic culture and approach to negotiations.
For a valuable discussion, see Shmuel Bar, “Iran: Cultural Values,” p. 15.
70. See Hashemi Rafsanjani, quoted in Neil MacFarquahar, “For Many Iranians,
Nuclear Power Is an Issue of Pride,” International Herald Tribune, May 30, 2005, p.
7. Others disagree, arguing that most of the advantages of nuclear weapons come
from having the capacity to produce them rather than their actual possession. See
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172 | Notes

Hamid Hadian, “Nuclear Weapons as the Central Focus of International Politics,”
Diplomatic Hamshahri, no. 20, September 2004.
71. For discussion, see Ayelet Savyon, “Iran Seeks EU Consent for Modelling Its
Nuclear Program on the ‘Japanese/German model’: i.e., Nuclear Fuel Cycle Capa-
bilities Three Months Short of the Bomb,” Middle East Media Research Institute
(MEMRI) no. 229, February 23, 2004, http://memri.org/bin/opener.cgi?
72. See also Ariel Levite, “Never Say Never Again: Nuclear Reversal Revisited,”
International Security, vol. 27, no. 3, Winter 2002/03, p. 69.
73. Mohammad Al Baradei, quoted in Steven Fidler, “Non-Proliferation Treaty,
Testing Times: How the Grand Bargain of Nuclear Containment Is Breaking Down,”
Financial Times, May 23, 2005, p. 11; Carol Rodley, State Department’s second top
intelligence official, quoted in Douglas Jehl and Eric Schmitt, “Data Is Lacking on
Iran’s Arms, U.S. Panel Says,” New York Times, March 9, 2005, http://
74. For an early discussion of the dangers within the NPT, see Avner Cohen and
Joe Pilat, “Assessing Virtual Nuclear Arsenals,” Survival, vol. 40, no. 1, Spring 1998,
pp. 129–44. Michael Mazarr discusses how a nuclear option might be used for
arms control purposes: “For most developed and a few developing states the ques-
tion is not whether they could have nuclear weapons but how long it would take to
deploy them. The key criterion becomes the cushion of time between a given stage
of nuclear technology and a deployed nuclear force. Virtual arsenals would aim to
create such a cushion for the nuclear weapon states and extend it for non-nuclear
weapon states.” Michael J. Mazarr, “Virtual Arsenals,” Survival, vol. 37, no. 3,
Autumn 1995, p. 14.
75. George Perkovich notes that this scenario, “a variant of the Japanese model
is very difficult to counter, and could be a model for other states beyond Iran.” See
George Perkovich, testimony before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee,
May 19, 2005, http://foreign.senate.gov/testimony/2005/PerkovichTesti-
mony050519.pdf. For a generally sensible set of comments on Iran and nuclear
weapons, see Christopher de Bellaigue, “Iran: Think Again,” Foreign Policy, no. 148,
May/June 2005, pp. 18–24.

Chapter Four

1. Shahram Chubin, “Does Iran Want Nuclear Weapons?” Survival, vol. 37, no.
1, Spring 1995.
2. In the autumn of 2003 (Tehran agreement) and again in the November 2004
Paris agreement, Iranian officials had to explain to their domestic audience the need
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Notes | 173

for prudent diplomacy to defuse pressures, suggesting that a domestic constituency
existed for confronting the international community. Hossein Mousavian depicted
the 2004 agreement as part of strategy of “preventing the formation of an interna-
tional consensus against the Iranian nuclear program” (and possible referral to the
UNSC). See “Iran Security Official Says Nuclear Talks Eased Concern of Possible
Conflict,” ISNA (Tehran), December 21, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, December 24,
3. On omissions, see interview with Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s representative at the
IAEA, quoted in “Iran’s IAEA Envoy Insists Tehran Not Seeking to Become a Nuclear
Power,” Der Spiegel, September 15, 2003, in BBC Monitoring, September 25, 2003.
Hashemi Rafsanjani has said that “it was possible that, at times, Iran has not reported
its activities.” Hashemi Rafsanjani, BBCTV interview, quoted in George Jahn, “Iran
Admits Expanded Nuke Work,” CBS News, June 15, 2005, http://
www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/06/15/world/printable702166.shtml. On U.S. sanc-
tions as cause of nondeclaration, see Hasan Rowhani, quoted in “Security Chief
Tells EU Iran Didn’t Reveal Nuclear Information due to Sanctions,” Iranian Labour
News Agency (Tehran), November 17, 2003, in BBC Monitoring, November 17,
2003; and Hashemi Rafsanjani, quoted in “Iran: Rafsanjani Delivers Friday Prayers
on Qods Day,” Voice of the IRI Network (Tehran), November 21, 2003, in BBC Mon-
itoring, November 21, 2003.
4. See Figure 2 on nuclear decision making.
5. Hasan Rowhani, quoted in “Iran’s Nuclear Chief Denies Rumours of Resigna-
tion,” Sharq website, July 14, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, July 15, 2005. At the time
Supreme Leader Khamenei defended the agreement in similar words: “They [the
United States] had come close to forming an international consensus against the
Islamic republic on the issue of nuclear weapons ... Iran acted adroitly to clarify the
situation.” Quoted in “Iran’s Khamenei Defends Decision on Nuclear Protocol,”
Voice of IRI Network (Tehran), November 2, 2003, in BBC Monitoring, November 4,
6. Mohsen Mirdamadi, Chairman of the National Security and Foreign Relations
Committee of the Majles, quoted in “Prominent Reformist Says Iran Should Main-
tain US-EU Rift over Nuclear Programme,” ISNA (Tehran), September 26, 2003, in
BBC Monitoring, September 27, 2003.
7. Hasan Rowhani, “Iran’s Security Chief Rejects IAEA Demand to Suspend
Enrichment,” IRI News Network (Tehran), September 19, 2004, in BBC Monitoring,
September 20, 2004.
8. Negotiations helped create the atmosphere for long-term gas contracts with
India, China, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates. See Hossein Mousavian,
quoted in “EU Waiting for New Iranian Government to Proceed with Talks—
Official,” IRNA (Tehran), July 17, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, July 18, 2005.
9. Rowhani, “Iran’s Nuclear Chief Denies Rumours.”
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174 | Notes

10. Representative of this viewpoint is Mohsen Rezai, the Secretary of the Expe-
diency Council, quoted in “Failure to Close Iran Nuclear File at IAEA Risks Paris
Deal—Iran Official,” ISNA (Tehran), November 21, 2004, in BBC Monitoring,
November 24. 2004. For criticism of Europe as the mouthpiece of the United States
and “Zionists,” see “Iran Press: Editorial Says Europe ‘Not to Be Trusted’ in Nuclear
Talks,” Jomhuriy-eh Eslami’, July 18, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, July 20, 2005.
11. Ali Akbar Salehi, quoted in “Europe Should Understand That Its Security Is
Closely Linked to Iran’s Security,” IRNA, March 9, 2005, in MEMRI, Inquiry and
Analysis Series no. 218, April 7, 2005. Hasan Rowhani observed that if the negoti-
ations failed “the region would come up against serious obstacles and regional secu-
rity will be jeopardized.” See Rowhani, quoted in IRNA, March 5, 2005, in MEMRI,
Inquiry and Analysis Series no. 218, April 7, 2005.
12. See Roula Khalaf, Najmeh Bozorgmehr, and Gareth Smyth, “Interview with
Hasan Rowhani,” Financial Times, April 19, 2005.
13. As one Iranian negotiator noted, “The Europeans want to find a solution but
their ability to manoeuvre in their political relationship with America is limited.” See
“Iran Press: Iranian Negotiator Says Nuclear Talks Reaching Dead-End,” Siyasat-e
Ruz (Tehran), May 26, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, May 30, 2005.
14. Rowhani noted, “The Americans say that we should force Iran to abandon
the program. The Europeans say no, we should encourage Iran and gently convince
it that it is to its benefit to abandon the program. The Russians too, may have an
opinion similar to the Europeans.” The bottom line, however, is that they all agree
that Iran should not have this technology. Hasan Rowhani, quoted in “Iran’s Nuclear
Chief Denies Rumours of Resignation,” Sharq website, July 14, 2005, in BBC Mon-
itoring, July 15, 2005.
15. “Any Iranian government that wishes to stop uranium enrichment will fall,”
insisted Rowhani. Quoted in “Iranian Paper Views Delay to Nuclear Deal with Rus-
sia,” Iran (Tehran), February 27, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, February 28, 2005. See
also Reuters, “Iran Threatens to End Nuclear Talks if Its Agenda Is Not Accepted,”
International Herald Tribune, April 21, 2005, p. 4.
16. For a convenient source for all of these reports, see Secretary of State for For-
eign and Commonwealth Affairs, Iran’s Nuclear Program: A Collection of Documents
(Norwich: HMSO, January 2005), http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/
17. AEO Head Reza Aghazadeh, quoted in “Iran: Atomic Energy Chief Says Test
Production of Uranium Begins in 20 Days,” Vision of the IRI Network 1 (Tehran),
March 28, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, March 29, 2004. For text of the Tehran agree-
ment, see Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Iran’s Nuclear
18. For text, see Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Iran’s
Nuclear Program.
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Notes | 175

19. Hasan Rowhani, quoted in “Security Chief Says Iran Resuming Manufacture
of Nuclear Components,” Vision of the IRI Network 1 (Tehran), June 27, 2004, in BBC
Monitoring, June 27, 2004.
20. Hossein Mousavian, senior negotiator and IAEA delegate, quoted in “Nuclear
Spokesman Says Resolution Not ‘Major Threat’ to Iran in Actuality,” IRI News Net-
work (Tehran), June 18, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, June 19, 2004.
21. For text, see Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Iran’s
Nuclear Program.
22. The report, which is based on interviews with senior Iranian negotiators, is
credible. See “Iran’s Nukes Program Was Speeded Up,” Al-Jazeera, December 12,
2004, http://www.aljazeera.com.
23. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi, quoted in “Foreign Ministry
Spokesman Says Iran Nuclear Crisis Over,” ISNA (Tehran), December 10, 2004, in
BBC Monitoring, December 12, 2004.
24. For this episode, see Hasan Rowhani’s comments, quoted in “Foreign Min-
ister Foresees Iran-EU Agreement on Nuclear Issue,” IRNA (Tehran), May 10, 2005,
in BBC Monitoring, May 11, 2005. Hamid Reza Asefi, quoted in “Iran Foreign Min-
istry Preparing Additional Bill,” IRNA (Tehran), May 8, 2005, in BBC Monitoring,
May 9, 2005; see also “Iran: Threats of SC over Nuclear Plans Are ‘Propaganda,’” Al-
Jazeera.com, May 11, 2005; Evelyn Leopold, “Iran to Tell U.N. Soon of Nuclear
Work—Europe Envoy,” Reuters, May 11, 2005, http://www.iranfocus.com/mod-
25. Steven Weisman, “Atom Agency May Be Asked to Meet if Iran Resumes Ura-
nium Work,” New York Times, May 12, 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/
26. This raises interesting questions about Iran’s strategic culture or myopia.
There are parallels with North Korea. It has been suggested that North Korea has a
distorted worldview and warped expectations about how countries will respond to
its actions. See Daniel A. Pinkston and Phillip C Sanders, “Seeing North Korea
Clearly,” Survival, vol. 45, no. 3, Autumn 2003, p. 80. There are interesting paral-
lels between North Korea’s negotiating style for the Agreed Framework 1994 and
that of Iran. See Joel Witt, Daniel Poneman, and Robert Galluci, Going Critical: The
First Nuclear Crisis (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 2005), pp. 61, 75–6.
27. Gareth Smyth, “Interview with Hossein Mousavian,” Financial Times, Octo-
ber 24, 2004; and Sirus Naseri, “Iran to Put Forward Final Nuclear Proposal in Less
than Three Months—Negotiator,” Vision of IRI Network 2 (Tehran), March 13, 2005,
in BBC Monitoring, March 16, 2005.
28. See “Iran Refuses to Show Centrifuge Machinery,” Vision of IRI Network 1
(Tehran), March 30, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, March 31, 2005.
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176 | Notes

29. Hashemi Rafsanjani, quoted in “(Corr) Rafsanjani Says Iran Will ‘Definitely’
Not Give Up Nuclear Technology,” Voice of the IRI Network (Tehran), March 4, 2005,
in BBC Monitoring, March 5, 2005.
30. Mohammad Al Baradei, quoted in “IAEA Chief Says Trust Would Improve
if Iran Stopped Centrifuge Production,” IRNA News Agency (Tehran), June 27,
2004, in BBC Monitoring, June 28, 2004.
31. Javier Solana, “New Challenges for NATO and the EU,” speech delivered at
the 41st Munich Conference on Security Policy, February 12, 2005.
32. In the words, respectively, of an unnamed British diplomat and Washington-
based expert David Albright, quoted in Elaine Sciolino and David Sanger, “Pressed,
Iran Admits It Discussed Nuclear Technology,” New York Times, February 28, 2005,
wanted; and Reuters, “IAEA Confirms Iran’s Halt to Nuclear Activity,” ABC News
Online, June 11, 2005, http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200506/
33. “Trustfulness, sometimes bordering on naiveté, is not appropriate in relations
with Iran.” See Anton Khoplov, “Will the Iranian Atom Become a Persian Carpet for
Russia?” PIR Center: Arms Control and Security Letters, no. 3 (159), May 2005; and
USA Today, “Prod Putin on Freedoms, but Don’t Isolate Key Ally,” February 23,
2005. In reference to Iran, President Chirac told a gathering: “You can deal with the
Sunnis but not with the Shi’ites.” Quoted in Elaine Sciolino, “Chirac Holding to a
Multipolar World,” International Herald Tribune, February 9, 2005, p. 3. Reference
to the Shiites may be to the practice of dissimulation (taqiiyah) authorized in extreme
34. See the report of Iran IAEA delegation in response: “International Atomic
Agency Delegation Will Visit Iran to Resolve Plutonium Issue,” Mehr News Agency
(Tehran), June 18, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, June 19, 2005.
35. Pierre Goldschmidt, IAEA Deputy Director-General for Safeguards, noted
this in March 2005, and it was repeated by Director-General Al Baradei in June
2005. See “Iran Denies Monitors Access to Military Site,” International Herald Tribune,
March 2, 2005, p. 3.
36. Hasan Rowhani, quoted in “Hasan Rowhani Reacts to IAEA Resolution on
Iran,” Vision of the IRI Network 1 (Tehran), March 13, 2004, in BBC Monitoring,
March 13, 2004. This was repeated by Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza
Asefi: “We would never allow anyone to talk to us using such language.” Quoted in
“Iran Says Wording of Resolution behind Delay in IAEA Visit,” IRNA News Agency
(Tehran), March 15, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, March 16, 2004.
37. Gareth Smyth and Guy Dinmore, “Iran Threatens Tough Measures in Event
of Sanctions,” Financial Times, August 9, 2004.
38. This is clearly the implication of the comments of two parliamentarians with
expertise in the nuclear field. See “Iran’s Majles Debates Suspension of Additional
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Notes | 177

Protocol,” Etemad website, Tehran, 28 September 2005, in BBC Monitoring, Septem-
ber 30, 2005.
39. This is clearly put by Hasan Rowhani, quoted in “Iran’s Nuclear Chief Denies
Rumours of Resignation.”
40. These divisions need not concern us here but they account for the ambiva-
lence of some of Iran’s statements, the grandstanding by its negotiators, and its set-
ting and then ignoring deadlines.
41. See, for example, Najmeh Bozorgmehr, “Interview with Hossein Mousa-
vian,” Financial Times, February 3, 2005, p. 6. Also, Elaine Sciolino, “Iran Agrees to
Continue Freeze on Nuclear Work,” International Herald Tribune, 26 May 2005.
42. See former IAEA Representative Ali Akbar Salehi, quoted in “Ex-Envoy Says
EU Should Meet Iran’s Demands,” Mardom Salari website (Tehran), December 13,
2004, in BBC Monitoring, December 14, 2004.
43. Reza Aghazadeh, quoted in “Iran May Negotiate Several Years,” Vision of IRI
Network 1 (Tehran) in Persian, May 8, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, May 9, 2005. See
also Aghazadeh’s comment about Isfahan’s 700 experts: “We cannot keep them idle
for a long time. Nuclear technology is something that needs constant research and
the knowledge needs to be completed.” Quoted in “Iran Needs Nuclear Activity
Resumption—Warning to EU,” Voice of IRI Network 2 (Tehran), May 12, 2005, in
BBC Monitoring, May 14, 2005.
44. Rowhani noted that some European politicians “told [him] explicitly in
Brussels that they are not only after resolving Iran’s nuclear case peacefully but also
making strategic relations with Iran.” Hasan Rowhani, quoted in “Europe Is After
Strategic Relations with Iran—Security Chief,” IRNA (Tehran), March 5, 2005, in
BBC Monitoring, March 6, 2005.
45. Rowhani, quoted in “Iran’s Nuclear Chief Denies Rumours.”
46. Hossein Mousavian has stated that “the European concern is that when Iran
has the capability of enrichment, whenever it decides in the future it can divert ...
Iran already has the capability. We have the minds, we have the yellowcake process
[the process for converting uranium ore, or yellowcake, into uranium hexofluoride,
the feeder material for enrichment]. We have centrifuges, scientists, sites.” See
Smyth, “Interview with Hossein Mousavian.” Sirus Naseri also commented on the
issue: “We have mastered the technology ... we have what is required for a fuel pro-
duction program.” Quoted in “Nuclear Negotiator Says Iran Ready for Agreement,
Prepared for Confrontation,” Voice of the IRI Network (Tehran), April 26, 2005, in
BBC Monitoring, April 27, 2005. On invulnerability to military strikes that cannot
destroy know-how, see Sirus Naseri, “Iran Says That Its Nuclear Skills Not for Sale,”
Muslim News, February 21, 2005, http://www.muslimnews.co.uk/news/print_ver-
sion.php?article=8852. See also Deputy Head of the AEO Mohammad Saidi, who
stated: “If an attack is made, Iran will be capable of reconstructing all its nuclear
installations in a year (but would end inspections).” Quoted in “Iran Will Resume
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178 | Notes

Nuclear Fuel Production if Europe Breaches Commitments,” Mehr News Agency
(Tehran), January 6, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, January 8, 2005.
47. “If you take article IV out of the NPT, all the nonaligned countries will
leave,” commented Hasan Rowhani. Quoted in “Top Iranian Official Says ‘No Dis-
cussion’ of Ending Uranium Enrichment,” IRI News Network (Tehran), March 5,
2005, in BBC Monitoring, March 7, 2005.
48. This was recognized by Iran’s IAEA representative in 2003, who noted the
good relations with the agency until 2002. Of a Board of Governors of 35, 18 were
from Western countries or those inclined to the West, while the other half was from
nonaligned states. But Salehi noted that “even many of them are inclined to support
the West.” Ali Akbar Salehi, quoted in “Envoy to IAEA Says Iran Enriching Uranium
Takes ‘Positive View’ of NPT,” Iran (Tehran), July 27, 2003, in BBC Monitoring, July
28, 2003.
49. This offer is sometimes half serious and for public relations reasons, as in the
offer to the United States. Kevin Morrison, “Iran Offers to Let US Share Its Nuclear
Program,” Financial Times, March 16, 2005, p. 2.
50. Rowhani calls it the “biggest test for Europe,” suggesting that “it would be a
great failure on the part of Europe ... and multilateralism as a whole.” Quoted in
Roula Khalaf and Gareth Smyth, “Iran Turns Up Heat on Europe Ahead of Talks,”
Financial Times, April 19, 2005. Naseri echoes this line of thought, warning that
“should Europe fail ... it may not be able to play a fundamental role in another
political situation in the world.” Sirus Naseri, quoted in “Iran to Put Forward Final
Nuclear Proposal in Less than Three Months—Negotiator,” Vision of IRI Network 2
(Tehran), March 13, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, March 16, 2005.
51. See, respectively, Naseri, “Iran to Put Forward Final Nuclear Proposal”; and
Rowhani, “Top Iranian Official Says ‘No Discussion.’”
52. Rowhani, “Top Iranian Official Says ‘No Discussion.’”
53. Rowhani, “Top Iranian Official Says ‘No Discussion.’”
54. Rowhani noted that the United States “is trying to internationalize its sanc-
tions on Iran and change its enmity toward Iran into an international one.” Quoted
in “Iran Ready to Repel Likely US Attack, Says Security Chief,” ISNA (Tehran), Jan-
uary 27, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, January 30, 2005.
55. Hasan Rowhani, “Official Rebuffs US ‘Hollow Threats,’ Says Iranians Not Like
Afghans or Iraqis,” ISNA (Tehran), February 4, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, February
5, 2005; and “Iran’s Nuclear Negotiator Says US Role in Talks Would Be ‘Positive,’”
IRNA (Tehran), February 25, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, February 26, 2005.
56. Interview with senior Iranian official dealing with this issue, Geneva, June
24, 2005.
57. Ali Akbar Velayati, Advisor to the Supreme Leader on International Affairs,
quoted in “Iran in the Club of 10 Leading Nuclear States,” Sharq website (Tehran),
September 30, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, October 2, 2004. Rowhani saw two U.S.
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Notes | 179

aims: “to deny Iran access to peaceful technology” and “to prepare the ground for
its other plans.” Hasan Rowhani, quoted in “Iran’s Security Chief Says Careful Plan-
ning Stopped Nuclear Dossier Reaching UN,” Mehr News Agency (Tehran), Janu-
ary 27, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, January 28, 2005.
58. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, quoted in “Iran’s Supreme Leader
Rejects US ‘Lies,’ Urges Continued Nuclear Work,” Vision of the IRI Network 1
(Tehran), March 21, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, March 22, 2005. This was echoed
by presidential candidate Hojat-el Eslam Mehdi Karrubi, who saw concessions by
Iran on the enrichment issue as leading to more U.S. pretexts—first terrorism and
later human rights—that could be exploited by the regime’s opposition abroad.
Quoted in “Candidate in Iran Presidential Election Says US Hostile to Islamic
World,” IRNA (Tehran), June 8, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, June 9, 2005.
59. Salehi, “Envoy to IAEA Says Iran Enriching Uranium.”
60. See Sirus Naseri, in Stolz, “L’AIEA reclame,” p. 5.
61. Army Commander Major General Mohammed Salimi, quoted in “Iranian
Army Commander Calls US, Israeli Threats Serious,” IRNA (Tehran), March 15,
2005, in BBC Monitoring, March 16, 2005.
62. Khalaf, Bozorgmehr, and Smyth, “Interview Transcript: Hasan Rowhani.”
This sentiment is echoed by Foreign Minister Kharrazi. See “Iran Foreign Minister
on Relations with US, EU, Election, Iraq,” ISNA (Tehran), June 19, 2005, in BBC
Monitoring, June 20, 2005. Iran’s view was supported by Director-General Al
Baradei. See Arnaud Leparmentier and Laurent Zecchini, “L’Iran doit avoir l’assur-
ance qu’on ne songe pas a l’attaquer ou provoquer un changement de regime, “ Le
Monde, March 23, 2005, p. 7.
63. Apposite here is the proposition advanced in a recent study of British diplo-
macy that notes that “the cliché about rebuilding trust will not do: for trust is not a
commodity. It cannot be built, or rebuilt. It can only be earned, given or frittered
away. In the new world order we can do little better than rely on candour and open-
ness.” See Peter Aspden, “Colour of Culture No Longer Black or White,” review of
Mark Leonard and Martin Rose, “British Public Diplomacy in the Age of Schisms,”
Financial Times, March 19-20, 2005 (weekend edition), p. W6.
64. An unnamed senior Iranian official told a journalist, “The US is using the
nuclear issue as a pretext for regime change. The issue is a diversion. The US wants
to weaken Iran. Even if the nuclear issue was solved, they would want another
thing and another thing.” See Simon Tisdall, “Atomic Clock Ticks Down to Fallout
with Iran,” Guardian, March 18, 2005, http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/
65. “Former Nuclear Negotiator Quoted on Talks Background,” Etemad website
(Tehran) (in Persian), February 23, 2006, in BBC Monitoring, February 26, 2006.
These excerpts are from the Rahbod Quarterly: Journal of the Strategic Research Cen-
tre of the Assembly of Experts based on a speech in Autumn 2005.
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180 | Notes

66. Iran reportedly threatened India with withdrawal of a major gas pipeline
agreement if it voted against Iran in November at the IAEA. Joel Brinkley, “Congress
Irate over Talks with India,” International Herald Tribune, November 1, 2005, p. 4.
67. President Ahmadinejad referred to this offer of participation at the UN. Par-
ticipation appears to mean, according to a senior nuclear official, “ownership super-
vision over Iran’s nuclear installations which is a step higher than technical and legal
supervision”—in effect, a confidence-building measure. Mohammad Saidi, quoted
in “Comment Sees Possible Lose/Lose Outcome from Nuclear Impasse,” Etemad
website (Tehran), October 12, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, October 13, 2005. The for-
eign minister has talked of state-owned and private companies helping to develop
Iran’s nuclear program.
68. For an overview, see Associated Press, “Iran Tries to Burnish Image,” Inter-
national Herald Tribune, November 7, 2005, p. 4.
69. Respectively, on January 12 and 22, 2006.
70. See Carolo Hoyos and Dan Dombey, “Iran’s Plan for Oil Cuts Is Snubbed by
OPEC,” Financial Times, January 31, 2006, p. 1; and Jan Mouawad, “OPEC Agrees
to Maintain Current Production,” International Herald Tribune, February 1, 2006,
p. 13.
71. Hasan Rowhani, quoted in Gareth Smyth, “Iran Dashes Hopes for Russian
Nuclear Deal,” Financial Times, February 14, 2006, p. 4.
72. See Deputy Secretary of the SNSC Javad Vaidi’s comments quoted in “Iranian
Daily Calls on Government to Consider Russia’s Proposal,” Iran (Tehran), February
14, 2006, in BBC Monitoring, February 15, 2006.
73. President Ahmadinejad on February 11 and the Foreign Ministry spokesman
on February 12, 2006. Whether this was inadvertent or an attempt to play “good
cop, bad cop” is unclear. There were reports that Larijani gave the impression to
Europeans in March of disassociating himself from the president. See Natalie
Nougayrede and Laurent Zecchini, “Les negociateurs iraniens et europeens ne
parvient pas a s’accorder sur le dossier nucleaire.”
74. See “Iran Threatens Jump in Atom Work: A Final Proposal to Keep the UN
at Bay,” International Herald Tribune, March 6, 2006, p. 1/8; Nougayrede and Zec-
chini, “Les negociateurs iraniens et europeens ne parvient pas a s’accorder sur le
dossier nucleaire,” Le Monde, March 5-6, 2006, p. 4.
75. See, for example, Mohsen Rezai, who is typical in insisting that the issue is
a legal one for the agency but that the United States and Europe seek to make it a
“political” one. Quoted in “Expediency Council Secretary Says Tension between
Iran and America Serious,” Etemad website (Tehran), March 2, 2006, in BBC Mon-
itoring, March 3, 2006.
76. Ali Hoseyni Tash, “Iran Negotiator Assesses Cost of Referral to Security
Council,” Farhang-e Ashti (Tehran), February 28, 2006, in BBC Monitoring, March
3, 2006.
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Notes | 181

77. See Gareth Smyth, “Iran Attempts to Backtrack from Oil Supply Threat,”
Financial Times, October 2, 2005; Yahoo News, “Iran Threatens to Resume Enrich-
ment,” September 26, 2005; RFE/RL, “Iran Threatens to Stop UN Nuclear Inspec-
tions,” October 7, 2005; “Iran Threatens to Stop Abiding by Additional
Protocol—Foreign Minister,” Voice of IRI Network (Tehran), October 16, 2005, in
BBC Monitoring, October 17, 2005; Reuters, “Iran Hints of Reductions of Oil Sales
over Nuclear Dispute,” New York Times, October 2, 2005; and Nazila Fathi, “In
Shift, Iran Agrees to Resume Nuclear Talks,” New York Times, October 13, 2005.

Chapter Five

1. Mohammad Al Baradei noted the risk that if referred to the UNSC, the coun-
cil might not act and Iran might opt out of the NPT: “North Korea in many ways has
revealed the limitations ... of the Security Council.” See Louis Charbonneau, “El
Baradei Wary of Taking Iran to the Security Council,” Reuters Foundation Alertnet,
July 8, 2004, http://www.alertnet.org/printable.htm?URL-the_news/newdesk/
LO8157593.html. Even skeptics of the IAEA role acknowledge the uncertainty of a
UNSC response given the record in Iraq and Korea. See Chen Zak, “Iran’s Nuclear
Policy and the IAEA: An Evaluation of Program 93+2,” Military Research Papers no.
3 (Washington, DC: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2002), pp. 70–1. As
Ephraim Asculai notes, if something is amiss regarding verification, the IAEA may,
but is not obligated to, report it to the UNSC. Similarly, if a state withdraws from
its safeguards agreement and declares an intention to withdraw from the treaty
(under Article X), the Security Council is not required “to take any action or even
debate the matter.” Ephraim Asculai, “Rethinking the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Regime,” Memorandum no. 70 (Tel Aviv: JCSS, June 2004), pp. 15, 18.
2. Louis Charbonneau, “Confrontation Won’t Fix Iran Nuke Issue—El Baradei,”
Reuters, June 27, 2004.
3. See George Perkovich, “Bush’s Nuclear Revolution: A Regime Change in Non-
Proliferation,” Foreign Affairs, vol. 82, no. 2, March/April 2003, pp. 2–8. For a
defense of the Bush approach, see Lee Feinstein and Anne-Marie Slaughter, “A Duty
to Prevent,” Foreign Affairs, vol. 83, no.1, January/February 2004, pp. 143–4. The
problem with this approach, focusing on weapons rather than states, is that its
opening proposition is to treat North Korea as if it were Norway.
4. Condoleezza Rice, “The Promise of Democratic Peace,” Washington Post,
December 11, 2005, opinion-editorial.
5. President George W. Bush, address to American Legion, February 24, 2006.
At a press conference earlier, Bush put it more simply: “I don’t believe that non-
transparent regimes that threaten the security of the world should be allowed to gain
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182 | Notes

the technologies necessary to make a (nuclear) weapon.” See press conference, Jan-
uary 26, 2006, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/01/20060126.html.
See also Elaine Sciolino and David Sanger, “Iran Is Said to Start Enriching Fuel on
a Very Small Scale,” New York Times, February 25, 2006, p. A5. The distinction
between types of regimes was emphasized in the contrasting approach of the United
States toward India. As Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns
noted, “The comparison between India and Iran is just ludicrous. India is a highly
democratic, peaceful, stable state ... Iran is an autocratic state mistrusted by nearly
all countries.” Steven Weisman, “Dissenting on the Atom Deal,” New York Times,
March 3, 2006, p. A10.
6. See Condoleezza Rice, testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Commit-
tee, February 14, 2006. See John O’Neill, “Rice Asks for Funds to Buoy Policy in
Iran,” International Herald Tribune, February 16, 2006, p. 4. U.S. Ambassador to Iraq
Zalmay Khalilzad agrees that Iran is “an influential player seeking regional pre-
eminence”(hegemony); see Associated Press, “U.S. Accuses Iranians of Aiding Iraqi
Militia,” International Herald Tribune, February 21, 2006, p. 6.
7. President George W. Bush, State of the Union address to Congress, Washing-
ton, DC, January 31, 2006.
8. For a skeptical view, see “Bush et l’Iran,” Le Monde, March 8, 2006, p. 2.
9. Pakistan and China are not members of the PSI. See David Sanger, “U.S.
Shares Details on Efforts to Intercept Weapons Technology,” International Herald
Tribune, June 1, 2005, p. 4.
10. See especially David Sanger, “Bush Seeks to Ban Some Nations from All
Nuclear Activity,” New York Times, March 15, 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/
2005/03/15/politics15treaty.html?th=&pagewanted=print&po. Sanger reports that
“so far the administration has not declared publicly that its larger goal beyond Iran
is to remake a treaty whose intellectual roots date back to the Eisenhower adminis-
tration, under the cold war banner of ‘Atoms for Peace.’”
11. President George W. Bush, speech delivered at the National Defense Univer-
sity (NDU), Washington, DC, February 11, 2004.
12. David Sanger, “U.S. Demand Deepens Gulf with Iran over Nuclear Facilities,”
New York Times, May 3, 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/03/international/
13. Andrew Semmel, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Non-
Proliferation, statement to NPT Review Conference, U.S. State Department press
release, May 25, 2005. George Perkovich, Joseph Cirincione, Rose Gottemoeller, Jon
B. Wolfsthal, and Jessica T. Mathews, Universal Compliance: A Strategy for Nuclear
Security (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment, March 2005); Dafna Linzer, “Iran
Plans Defense of Nuclear Program,” Washington Post, May 2, 2005, p. A01.
14. Reports suggest that U.S. efforts to lobby the G-8 to agree to sanctions on
Iran should the EU-3 offer to Iran be rejected by Tehran were unsuccessful. James
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Notes | 183

Harding and Hugh Williamson, “Bush to ‘Think About’ Europe’s Iran Strategy,”
Financial Times, February 24, 2005, p. 1.
15. For text of statements at Evian and Sea Island G-8 meetings, see Secretary
of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Iran’s Nuclear Program: A Collection
of Documents (Norwich: HMSO, January 2005), http://www.globalsecurity.org/
wmd/library/report/2005/cm6443.pdf. For the Gleneagles declaration, see Payvand
Iran News, July 8, 2005, which called for Iran to cooperate fully with the IAEA and
to ratify the Additional Protocol without delay.
16. For a useful summary of U.S. sanctions in place, see Kenneth Katzman,
“Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses,” Congressional Research Service no.
RL32048, January 19, 2005. See also “U.S. Lawmakers Take Aim at Foreign Firms
in Iran,” International Herald Tribune, February 17, 2005, p. 13.
17. This followed a determination by Secretary Rice that Iran was acting to con-
tribute to nuclear proliferation under U.S. legislation (PD 12938).
18. “Most analysts seem to agree that sanctions would have had a far greater
effect on Iran if they were multilateral or international.” See Katzman, “Iran: U.S.
Concerns,” p. CRS-26.
19. For this suggestion, see President George W. Bush, transcript of White House
conference, quoted in New York Times, “For Bush, ‘Results Mixed’ on Iraqi Troops,”
December 20, 2004, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/20/politics/20web-
20. See Shahram Chubin and Robert Litwak, “Debating Iran’s Nuclear Aspira-
tions,” Washington Quarterly, vol. 26, no. 4, Autumn 2003.
21. International Herald Tribune, “Back to Arms Control,” January 20, 2003, edi-
torial, p. 10.
22. Samantha Power, “Comment: Boltonism,” New Yorker, March 21, 2005, p. 23.
23. See, especially, former official Flynt Leverett, who argues that ideologues in
the administration did not use the opportunity to engage Iran. Flynt Leverett, inter-
view with Bernard Gwertzman, Council on Foreign Relations, March 31, 2006,
http://www.cfr.org/publication/10326/leverett.html. This is corroborated by James
Risen, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration (London:
Free Press, 2006), pp. 215–7. Guy Dinmore, “Iran Tells U.S. It Has Detained Ter-
ror Suspects, Al Qaida,” Financial Times, May 23, 2003, p. 12; Robin Wright, “U.S.
in ‘Useful’ Talks with Iran,” Los Angeles Times, May 13, 2003. For a summary of past
efforts along these lines, see Guy Dinmore, “Fears Grow of New Chapter in Story of
Missed U.S.-Iran Opportunities,” Financial Times, March 5, 2005, p. 3. Two presti-
gious institutes advocated engagement as a strategy: the Atlantic Institute and the
Council on Foreign Relations. See, for example, http://www.cfr.org/pdf/Iran_TF.pdf.
24. Najmeh Bozorgmehr and Guy Dinmore, “Rafsanjani Offers Threats and
Olive Branch,” Financial Times, June 14, 2003, p. 7.
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184 | Notes

25. See reference in President Bush’s 2005 State of the Union address: “And I say
to the Iranian people: ‘As you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you.’”
On the State Department’s human rights report, see Guy Dinmore, “Bush Targets
‘Tyrants’ in Human Rights Report,” Financial Times, March 1, 2005, p. 4; on the elec-
tions, Caroline Daniel, “Bush Condemns Tehran’s ‘Rule of Suppression,’” Financial
Times, June 17, 2005, p. 6; for Secretary Rice on Iran’s “loathsome record,” see
Associated Press, “Rice Deflects Talk of Strike on Iran,” International Herald Tribune,
February 5, 2005, http://www.iht.com/bin/print_ipub.php?file=/articles/
26. Steven Weisman, “On Iran and Korea Few Options: U.S. Faces Prospect of
Diplomacy Failing,” International Herald Tribune, March 28, 2005, pp. 1, 4. Weisman
notes that “conservatives in Congress are demanding that [the United States] pro-
mote dissident groups within Iran.” Sonni Efron and Mark Mazzetti, “U.S. May Aid
Iran Activists,” Los Angeles Times, March 4, 2005, http://www.latimes.com/news/
nationworld/world/la-fg-usiran4mar0407066840; and Guy Dinmore, “U.S. Offers
Grants to Opponents of Iran’s Clerics,” Financial Times, May 6, 2005, p. 4.
27. See Guy Dinmore and Roula Khalaf, “U.S. Hawks Rooting for Hardline Can-
didate,” Financial Times, June 24, 2005, p. 7; and “Iran Turns Right,” Financial Times,
June 27, 2005, editorial, p. 14.
28. Demonizing Iran is current practice. In the case of an Israeli lobby such as
AIPAC, it serves a purpose; other cases, like that of Congressman Kurt Weldon and
Kenneth Timmerman, appear more curious. See Guy Dinmore, “Books Add to
Rightwing Campaign to Demonise Iran,” Financial Times, July 8, 2005; and Guy Din-
more, “Iran’s Nuclear Tactics Send Delegates into Interactive Dystopia,” Financial
Times, May 25, 2005, p. 4.
29. The phrase is attributed to Philip Stephens, “Bush Lacks a Plan to Back Up
His Middle East Pledges,” Financial Times, December 3, 2004, p. 13; see also Finan-
cial Times, “Try Diplomacy,” February 11, 2005, editorial, p. 12.
30. See Brian Knowlton, “Two Key Senators Assail U.S. Policy on Korea,” Inter-
national Herald Tribune, June 15, 2005, p. 7. The second senator was Joseph Biden,
who made the same criticism regarding Iran policy. See Senator Joseph Biden (D-
Del.), “Iran’s Weapons Proliferation,” opening statement to U.S. Senate Committee
on Foreign Relations Hearings, May 19, 2005. See also Guy Dinmore, “Critics Pour
Water on U.S. Foreign Policy’s Fiery Vision,” Financial Times, February 21, 2005,
p. 4.
31. See, especially, Economist, “Mr. Bush Goes to Belgium,” February 19, 2005,
pp. 9–10; see also Financial Times, “Rice Reaches Out to Europe,” February 9, 2005,
editorial, p. 12, which notes that “it is the very nature of the regime—its refusal to
recognise Israel, or to respect human rights—that makes it antithetical to the U.S.
vision of a Middle East remade.” Among many references to the Bush administra-
tion perception, thus hesitancy, that engagement equals endorsement, see Javier
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Notes | 185

Solana, who stated: “President Bush has said very clearly they don’t want to legiti-
mate the regime. They cannot get engaged because it means legitimating them.” See
Judy Dempsey, “EU’s Solana Remains Pessimistic,” International Herald Tribune, Feb-
ruary 21, 2005, pp. 1, 6.
32. See Economist, “Who Is John McCain?” June 18, 2005, p. 44; and Reuel
Marc Gerecht, “Going Soft on Iran,” Weekly Standard, March 8, 2004.
33. For a discussion, see Richard Haass, “Regime Change and Its Limits,” For-
eign Affairs, vol. 84, no. 4, July/August 2005, pp. 66–78. Haass, a former official, sees
delay and drift in policy and argues that regime change is a complement to diplo-
macy and deterrence. He also notes that regime evolution through “opening up”
(that is, engagement) is a more viable strategy, in effect endorsing the EU-3
34. Jim Dobbins, “In Iran, the U.S. Can’t Stay on the Sidelines,” International Her-
ald Tribune, December 2, 2004, p. 8. His exact phrase was “Washington is no more
than an excited bystander offering advice from a safe distance.” For background, see
also Geoffrey Kemp, U.S. and Iran: The Nuclear Dilemma, Next Steps (Washington,
DC: Nixon Center, 2004)
35. Note that the distinction between “reporting” and “referral” of an issue to the
Security Council is ambiguous and disputed. Reporting is simply a transmittal of an
IAEA report, while a referral is transmittal of a report with the expectation of action.
The UNSC can take note or endorse a report, make a hortatory appeal (call upon),
condemn a policy, or move to mandatory measures requiring states to follow a cer-
tain course. In the case of Iran, both terms have been used loosely and interchange-
ably. The assumption is that initially, at least from mid-March 2006, the Security
Council has simply been given a report. The Iranian government has noted that it
makes no distinction between the terms in its evaluation of its own response.
36. See Robin Wright, “U.S. Wants Guarantees on Iran Effort,” Washington Post,
March 4, 2005. See also Guy Dinmore and Hubert Wetzel, “President Faces Tough
Task Talking Congress Round to New Iran Stance,” Financial Times, February 25,
2005, p. 4. For early advocacy of such an approach, see Robert Einhorn, “A Transat-
lantic Strategy on Iran’s Nuclear Program,” Washington Quarterly, vol. 27, no. 4,
Autumn 2004, pp. 21–32.
37. In a statement to the IAEA, U.S. Ambassador Jackie Sanders put the U.S.
(and allied) case clearly: “Given the history of Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities and
its documented efforts to deceive the IAEA and the international community, only
the full cessation and dismantling of Iran’s nuclear fissile material production can
begin to give us any confidence that Iran is no longer pursuing nuclear weapons.”
Jackie W. Sanders, U.S. Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, “Iran
Deceives International Nuclear Inspectors, U.S. Says,” statement to the IAEA Board
of Governors, Vienna, March 2, 2005, http://www.usembassy.it/file2005_03/alia/
a5030204.htm. See also David Sanger and Steven Weisman, “U.S. and EU Forge
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186 | Notes

Joint Strategy on Iran Talks,” International Herald Tribune, March 12-13, 2005, pp.
1, 6; Steven Weisman, “On Iran, Bush Weighs a Joint Strategy with the Europeans,”
New York Times, March 4, 2005; and Steven Weisman, “U.S. Reviewing European
Proposal for Iran,” New York Times, February 28, 2005.
38. Brian Knowlton, “U.S. Officials Cool on Iran’s Hot Response,” International
Herald Tribune, March 14, 2005, p. 4. See also Economist, “A Grand Bargain with the
Great Satan?” March 12, 2005, pp. 12–3; see Geoffrey Kemp, “Desperate Times, Half
Measures,” National Interest, Summer 2005, pp. 53–6.
39. The phrase “legitimate security concerns” is repeated in Financial Times,
“Wanted: Iran Policy,” January 28, 2005, editorial, p. 12; and Financial Times, “A
Useful Pause in the Iran Talks,” May 27, editorial, 2005, p. 12. The phrase referring
to Europeans and China is from Economist, “Return of the Axis of Evil,” May 14,
2005, pp. 9–10.
40. See Simon Tisdall, “Atomic Clock Ticks Down to Fallout with Iran,”
Guardian, March 18, 2005, http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,5150908-
103390,00.html. Tisdall quotes a diplomat as saying: “The Americans are trying to
create an environment so that the U.S. can hit Iran and I don’t think the Europeans
would accept this.” For less skepticism, see Philip Stephens, “Europe Cannot Retreat
from the World,” Financial Times, June 10, 2005, p. 13.
41. President Bush stated that “the international community must come together
and make it very clear to Iran that we will not tolerate the construction of nuclear
weapons.” See President George W. Bush, statement at the White House, June 18,
2003. A more recent formulation by the president is that “the development of a
nuclear weapon is unacceptable and the process which would enable Iran to develop
a nuclear weapon is unacceptable.” See Paula Wolfson, “Bush Calls for Tough Stand
on Iran’s Nuclear Program,” Voice of America News, June 27, 2005,
http://www.voanews.com/english/2005-06-27-voa41.cfm?renderfor print.
42. The Supplementary Act 12938 (I as amended) Presidential Directive blocks
the assets of foreign governments and private companies and institutions having
technical or financial cooperation with the Iranian AEO. For the latest definition of
what is unacceptable; see “Les européens s’interrogent sur les intentions nucléaires
du nouveau gouvernement iranien,” Le Monde, June 29, 2005, p. 3.
43. After the successful vote to report Iran to the Security Council, which opened
a new phase in diplomacy, Nicholas Burns acknowledged the change in U.S. pol-
icy: “We began supporting the European Union negotiating effort back on March
11th of 2005 and we patiently supported that set of negotiations all the way through
until just this week.” This included reaching out to Russia, India, China, and oth-
ers. See Nicholas Burns, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, February
5, 2006, http://fpc.state.gov/fpc/60433.htm.
44. This estimate, however, might well be tainted. Dafna Linzer, “Iran Is Judged
Ten Years from a Nuclear Bomb,” Washington Post, August 2, 2005, p. A01; and
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Notes | 187

Steven Weisman and Douglas Jehl, “Estimate Revised on When Iran Could Make a
Nuclear Bomb,” New York Times, August 3, 2005. Before this National Intelligence
Estimate (NIE), U.S. estimates, such as that by Defense Intelligence Agency Direc-
tor Lowell Jacoby in February 2005, were “within five years.” For a dissent from the
ten-year estimate, see Ephraim Asculai, “Intelligence Assessment and the Point of No
Return: Iran’s Nuclear Program,” Tel Aviv Notes, no.143, August 8, 2005. Perhaps the
most reliable estimate put Iran, “if unobstructed,” three to five years away; see David
Albright and Corey Hinderstein, “The Clock Is Ticking” (Washington, DC: Institute
for Science and International Security, March 27, 2006.
45. See Joel Brinkley, “U.S. Invested Political Capital against Iran,” International
Herald Tribune, September 28, 2005, p. 4; Guy Dinmore and Najmeh Bozorgh-
mehr, “Rice Fails to Win Support for Iran Referral to Security Council,” Financial
Times, October 17, 2005, p. 4.
46. President George W. Bush, press conference, December 19, 2005,
47. In Europe in February 2005, President Bush put it thus: “This notion that
the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. Having said that,
all options are on the table.” Vice President Cheney repeated the formulation a year
later. See Vice President Richard Cheney, remarks to the American Israel Public
Affairs Committee, Washington, DC, March 7, 2006. Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice, while emphasizing the U.S. “commitment to the diplomatic approach,” added:
“People shouldn’t want the President of the U.S. to take options off the table.” Times
of India, “US Warns Iran against Pulling Out of NPT,” February 13, 2006, http://
timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1411960.cms. For a succinct and persua-
sive argument against the military option, see Joe Cirincione, No Military Options
(Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment, 2006), http://ww.carnegieendowment.org/
48. According to an LA Times/Bloomberg poll, some 57 percent of Americans
favor a strike if Iran persists in its program. Another poll gave the figure as 42 per-
cent. See, respectively, Greg Miller, “57% Back a Hit on Iran if Defiance Persists,” Los
Angeles Times, January 27, 2006, http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/
asection/la-na-fornpoll27jan27,05918171.story?coll+la=news-a section; Claudia
Dean, “Most Americans Back Sanctions on Iran,” Washington Post, January 31, 2006,
p. A13, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/30/
49. For a view that sees the administration as overloaded and unable to take on
much more, see Dennis Ross, “The Practical Realities of the Bush Foreign Policy in
the Second Term,” Financial Times, October 4, 2005, p. 15.
50. This “schizophrenic mission” is a perennial source of criticism; see, for exam-
ple, Jane Martinson, “Nuclear Watchdog under Fire,” Financial Times, September 19,
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188 | Notes

1995, p. 5. It is also accused of being an “unwitting enabler”; see Michael Levi,
“Enabler,” New Republic, October 6, 2003, pp. 17–8.
51. Chen Zak, “Iran’s Nuclear Policy and the IAEA: An Evaluation of Program
93+2,” Military Research Papers no. 3 (Washington, DC: Washington Institute for
Near East Policy, 2002), pp. 67–8, 70–1.
52. Ephraim Asculai, “Rethinking the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime,” Mem-
orandum no. 70 (Tel Aviv: JCSS, June 2004), pp. 16–7, 33, 36, 41.
53. Asculai, “Rethinking,” p. 37. Al Baradei observed: “Should a state with a fully
developed fuel cycle capability decide, for whatever reason, to break away from its
non-proliferation commitments, most experts believe it could produce nuclear
weapons within a matter of months.” Quoted in Economist, “By Invitation,” October
18, 2003, p. 44.
54. For trenchant observations along these lines, see Asculai, “Rethinking”; and
Chen Zak, “Iran’s Nuclear Policy.”
55. Asculai, “Rethinking,” pp. 30, 37, 43–4. The U.S. government also took the
position that the distinction is meaningless and the failure to declare should be put
in the larger context of the covert program that it was intended to cover. Asculai sees
this as part of the IAEA’s tendency to trespass into the political rather than confin-
ing itself to the intended technical area.
56. Author interview with senior IAEA official, London, December 2005.
57. By late 2005, Al Baradei had made considerable headway on this proposal
in getting major actors’ support. See Guy Dinmore, “U.S. and Russia Back Establish-
ment of International Fuel Bank,” Financial Times, November 8, 2005, p. 4; Arnaud
Leparmentier and Laurent Zecchini, “L’Iran doit avoir l’assurance qu’on ne songe pas
a l’attaquer ou provoquer un changement de regime,” Le Monde, March 23, 2005,
p. 7; Mohammad Al Baradei, “Nuclear Non-Proliferation: Global Security in a
Rapidly Changing World,” speech delivered at the Carnegie International Non-
Proliferation Conference, Washington, DC, June 21, 2004, http://www.ceip.org/
files/projects/npp/resources/2004conference/speeches/elbaradei.doc; Economist, “By
Invitation,” October 18, 2003, p. 44; Al Baradei remarks on Iran website, Tehran,
October 18,2003, in BBC Monitoring, October 21, 2003; and Al Baradei, “Seven
Steps to Raise World Security,” Financial Times, February 2, 2005, p. 13. See also var-
ious Al Baradei speeches at Carnegie, IISS, MIT, etc., all accessible on the IAEA web-
58. Al Baradei has said that “we can continue to act like a fire brigade but we
need to look at the big picture.” Interview with Roula Khalaf, “Insecurity Drives
WMD Motivation,” Financial Times, July 23, 2003, p. 3. Regarding the “iceberg,” see
Paul Kerr, “Tackling the Nuclear Dilemma: An Interview with IAEA Director Gen-
eral Mohamed El-Baradei,” Arms Control Today, March 2005. The Director-General
supports the European initiative that takes into account the broader issues in the
nuclear, security, political, and economic “baskets” discussed in various committees.
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Notes | 189

59. See, respectively, “UN Nuclear Chief Presses Iran and North Korea,” Inter-
national Herald Tribune, November 2, 2004, p. 2; and Roula Khalaf, “UN Concern
over Iran’s N-Technology,” Financial Times, December 9, 2004, http://news.ft.com/
60. Al Baradei used U.S. pressure to get enhanced access but resisted immedi-
ate referral because the agency wanted to get a better idea of the scope of the pro-
gram. See Gillian Tett, “Alleged Noncompliance: Nuclear Watchdog Fails to Back
U.S. Censure of Iran,” Financial Times, June 19, 2003, p. 4.
61. IAEA Board of Governors, “Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agree-
ment in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” GOV/2006/14, resolution adopted February
4, 2006.
62. Report of the Director-General, “Implementation of the NPT Safeguards
Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” GOV/2006/15, February 27, 2006. Ear-
lier reports were made in 2004 and 2005, GOV/2004/83, paras. 106–114, and
GOV/2005/67 paras. 42–52.
63. See Elaine Sciolino, “UN Agency Says It Got Few Answers from Iran on
Nuclear Activity and Weapons,” New York Times, February 28, 2006, p. A11.
64. “Al Barade’i: Ball Is in Iran Court,” IRNA (Tehran), November 29, 2004, in
BBC Monitoring, November 30, 2004.
65. Al Baradei, interview by Roula Khalaf; Deutsche Welle, “U.S., Europe Aligned
on Iran Nuke Incentives,” March 3, 2005, http://www.dw-world.de/dw/
66. Al Baradei, interview by Paul Kerr, p. 10.
67. The technical assistance reportedly amounted to $1 billion a year. Ali Akbar
Salehi, interview by the BBC, “Envoy to IAEA Says Iran Enriching Uranium Takes
‘Positive View’ of NPT,” Iran (Tehran), July 27, 2003, in BBC Monitoring, July 28,
2003. The quote is from the Deputy Head of the AEO, Mohammad Saidi, in “Iran
Says IAEA Report Had to Be Presented Prior to Board of Governors’ Meeting,” IRNA
News Agency (Tehran), March 1, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, March 2, 2005.
68. Hasan Rowhani, quoted in “Iran: Rowhani Outlines Views on IAEA Resolu-
tion in News Conference,” ILNA (Tehran), November 28, 2003, in BBC Monitoring,
November 28, 2003.
69. See Mousavian’s comment on Iran’s aims in “IAEA Resolution Amendment
Possible—Iranian Spokesman,” ISNA (Tehran), June 15, 2004, in BBC Monitoring,
June 16, 2004.
70. See Melissa Fleming, quoted in “IAEA Spokeswoman Welcomes Iran’s Deci-
sion to Allow Inspection of Military Site,” IRNA News Agency (Tehran), January 6,
2005, in BBC Monitoring, January 7, 2005.
71. This was Tehran’s line initially in 2003 when it feared UNSC referral and
speedily concluded the first agreement with the EU-3. The same tactic has recurred
after every dispute arising from Iran’s rather free interpretation of its commitments.
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190 | Notes

See Hasan Rowhani, quoted in “Chairman of Iran’s Supreme National Security
Council Welcomes IAEA Resolution,” Voice of IRI Network (Tehran), November 26,
2003, in BBC Monitoring, November 26, 2003.
72. The source is Deputy Head of the SNSC for International Affairs Javad Va’idi.
Quoted in “West Responsible for Adverse Atmosphere against Iran,” IRNA (Tehran),
February 14, 2006, in BBC Monitoring, February 15, 2006. The figure of 1,700
man/days of inspections is quoted as of March 2006 (2,000 by June 2006).
73. Mohammad Al Baradei, quoted in “UN Watchdog Calls on U.S. to Join
Europe in Talks on Iran’s Nuclear Issue,” IRNA (Tehran), February 2, 2005, in BBC
Monitoring, February 3, 2005.
74. President Putin urged Iran to stop enrichment activities and meet IAEA
demands. RFE/R Liberty, September 25, 2003, http://www.rferl.org. Similarly, the
NAM viewed Iran’s signature of the AP as “positive” and encouraged Iran “to facili-
tate access to sites requested by the agency.” See “Non-Aligned Movement Views
Iran’s Signing of NPT Additional Protocol as Positive,” IRNA (Tehran), December 18,
2003, in BBC Monitoring, December 18, 2003; and “Text of Draft Resolution Pro-
posed by the Non-Aligned on Iran’s Nuclear Dossier,” IRNA (Tehran), November 24,
2004, in BBC Monitoring, November 25, 2004.
75. For example, Al Baradei said, “I hope that in the discussions [between Iran
and the EU-3] everyone puts their cards on the table. This is not just a technical
issue, its a security issue,” Al Baradei interview by Khalaf.
76. For the EU’s WMD strategy, see “EU Strategy against Proliferation of Weapons
of Mass Destruction (WMD)” (Brussels: EU, December 12, 2003),
77. Gerard Quille, “Prospects for a Common Transatlantic Strategy to Deal with
New Trends in Nuclear Proliferation,” paper presented at Conference on Transat-
lantic Security and Nuclear Proliferation, Rome, June 2005, p. 6.
78. For an excellent summary of these negotiations, see Shannon Kile of SIPRI,
“Status of IAEA Safeguards Inspections in Iran,” background paper for Moscow
Conference, October 3, 2005. See also Shannon Kile, ed., Europe and Iran: Perspec-
tives on Non-Proliferation (Stockholm: Stockholm International Peace Research Insti-
tute, 2005), SIPRI Research Report no. 21; George Perkovich, Toward Transatlantic
Cooperation in Meeting the Iranian Nuclear Challenge, Proliferation Papers (Paris: IFRI,
2005); Mark Leonard, Can Your Diplomacy Stop Iran’s Nuclear Program? Working
Paper, London: Center for European Reform, November 2005). Emily Landau and
Ephraim Asculai, “Iran’s Nuclear Program and Negotiations with EU-3,” Strategic
Assessment, vol. 8, no. 3, November 2005 pp.13–8. Other sources include Steve
Evert, “Engaging Iran,” Working Paper (London: Center for European Reform,
March 2004); Sean Smeland, “Countering Iranian Nukes,” Non-Proliferation Review,
Spring 2004, pp. 40–72; New York Times, “Status of EU-Iran Nuclear Talks,” May 16,
2005, http://www.nytimes.com/cfr/international/slot3_051605.html?pagewanted=
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Notes | 191

print. Paul Kerr, “Europeans: Iranians Honouring Agreement,” Arms Control Today,
March 2005, pp. 34–5.
79. Rowhani likened the United States to a Mercedes-Benz and the EU-3 to the
locally built and inexpensive Paykan car: “There are those who ask us why we did
not choose the bicycle because Paykans are useless, and we say to them that a
Paykan is still superior to a bicycle. However, there are some who say a Mercedes-
Benz would have been better, and we agree with them. But, at the same time, we tell
them that we could not afford to buy a Mercedes.” Hasan Rowhani, quoted in “Iran’s
Nuclear Chief Denies Rumours of Resignation,” Sharq (Tehran), July 14, 2005, in
BBC Monitoring, July 15, 2005.
80. See the report of Secretary Rice’s visit to Paris where all these issues arose.
Secretary Rice promoted Iran from “authoritarian” in 2004 to “totalitarian” in 2005
(due to faulty parliamentary elections) and responses of experts. See Elaine Sci-
olino, “‘Madame Hawk’ Ruffles Some Paris Feathers,” International Herald Tribune,
February 2, 2004, p. 2.
81. “For 26 years ... the ruling mullahs have compromised economics at home
and abroad to fortify a clerical dictatorship.” See Marc Ruehl Gerecht, “Europe Should
Be Careful What It Wishes for in Iran,” Financial Times, March 1, 2005, p. 13.
82. For example, as German Chancellor Schroeder has done. See Peter Spiegel
and Daniel Dombey, “Beneath the Bonhomie in Munich, U.S. and EU Tensions
Remain,” Financial Times, February 14, 2005, p. 7.
83. See Francois Heisbourg, “A Common Iran Policy is Essential,” Financial
Times, February 9, 2005, p. 13.
84. Regarding the EU-3, one congressional source commented, “The fear is that
there will be a windup but no pitch.” On the other side, an EU diplomat stated: “A
green light from the U.S. would add a lot of leverage to our capacity to negotiate with
the Iranians.” See Weisman, “U.S. Reviewing European Proposal for Iran.”
85. I owe the phrase to Robert Litwak, see his “Non-Proliferation and the Dilem-
mas of Regime Change,” Survival, vol. 45, no. 4, Winter 2003–2004, pp. 7–32.
86. Debates about whether unlimited suspension or indefinite suspension mean
“permanent” or not, whether and when suspension becomes “cessation,” whether
“objective guarantees” are weaker or stronger than those in the AP, and how to
assure that these and other guarantees are reciprocal (that is, guarantees on fuel
deliveries for Iran and so on) need no further elaboration in the current discussion.
87. See Christopher Adams, Roula Khalaf, and Neil Buckley, “EU-3 to Offer Iran
Help with Nuclear Power if It Agrees Not to Make Fuel,” Financial Times, July 15,
2005, p. 7. In the discussions with the EU-3, there is the carrot of a possible long-
term relationship with Europe. See Louis Michel, EU Commissioner for Develop-
ment, quoted in “EU Seeks Long-Term Relationship with Iran—IRNA,”IRNA
(Tehran), March 8, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, March 9, 2005.
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192 | Notes

88. International Herald Tribune, “Iran Threatens to Quit Nuclear Talks if Its
Agenda Not Accepted,” April 21, 2005, p. 4; see also Dafna Linzer, “Europeans
Open Talks with Iran on Nuclear Program,” Washington Post, May 25, 2005, p. A21;
and Arms Control Today, “IAEA Criticizes Iran Cooperation,” April 2005, pp. 34–5.
89. Farhan Bokhari and Roula Khalaf, “Pakistan Offers Nuclear Clues on Iran,”
Financial Times, March 26/27, 2005, p. 3; and Laurent Zecchini, “Les Européens font
une concession sur le dossier Nucléaire Iranien,” Le Monde, March 26, 2005, p. 3.
90. An unnamed EU diplomat, quoted in Roula Khalaf and Gareth Smyth, “EU
Trios Relief over Tehran Nuclear Offer May Prove Short Lived,” Financial Times,
April 21, 2005, p. 6.
91. Gareth Smyth and Daniel Dombey, “EU-3 Warn of ‘Managed Crisis’ over
Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions,” Financial Times, May 2, 2005, p. 8; Roula Khalaf, Gareth
Smyth, and Najmeh Bozorgmehr, “Battle to Keep Iran Nuclear Talks Alive,” Finan-
cial Times, May 13, 2005, p. 8.
92. The Russian proposal sought to take enrichment from Iran to Russia, which
would then supply the product to Iran. It offered Iran a method of stepping back
from insistence on having the fuel cycle on Iranian soil. Iran feigned interest in this
proposal to buy time.
93. Daniel Dombey, “EU Gives Ahmadi-Nejad Toughest Warning Yet over Anti-
Israel Remarks,” Financial Times, December 19, 2005, p. 3; and Dan Bilefsky, “EU
Warns Iran over Denial of Holocaust,” International Herald Tribune, December 17/18,
2005, p. 3.
94. Scott McClellan, White House press briefing, January 10, 2006,
95. British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), “E3-EU Statement on
Iran” (London: FCO, January 12, 2006), http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?page-
96. An EU spokeswoman, responding to Iranian criticism of EU-3 lethargy,
stated the EU’s goal: “The main challenge is to find what we call the objective guar-
antees that the Iranian program is of a peaceful nature....The issue is not pace but
substance.” Quoted in “EU Rejects Iran’s Call to Accelerate Nuclear Talks,” Al-
Jazeera, January 2, 2005, http://www.aljazeera.com/me.asp?service_ID=6912;
Najmeh Bozorgmehr, “Interview with Hossein Mousavian,” Financial Times, Febru-
ary 3, 2005, p. 6.
97. This is assuming that there is no parallel covert nuclear program in opera-
tion. One expert has observed that “if the Europeans’ negotiations do nothing more
than keep Iran from being overt in deployment and testing, they have accomplished
a great deal.” Tony Cordesman, quoted in Stefan Nicols, “Expert: Iran Nukes Replace
Old Military,” United Press International, May 20, 2005.
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Notes | 193

98. See Strobe Talbott, The Russia Hand: A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy (New
York: Random House, 2002).
99. Estimates on the number of technicians trained in Russia vary but one esti-
mate suggests there were some 300 technicians trained over a period of five years
(between 1999 and 2004). See “Nuclear Executive Describes Training for Iranians
in Russia,” ITAR-TASS News Agency (Moscow), June 9, 2004, in BBC Monitoring,
June 10, 2004. The Rosatom website (www.minatom.ru) says that 620 specialists
were trained as of December 23, 2004, and two more groups are to be trained at
Novovoronezh in 2005, making for a total of 707 for Bushire. The figure of 700 Ira-
nian experts trained at Novovoronezh is confirmed by Russian news agency ITAR-
TASS. See “Iranian Engineers Complete Training at Russian Nuclear Power Centre,”
ITAR-TASS, December 20, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, December 21, 2005. For
background of Russia’s cooperation with Iran, see Robert Einhorn and Gary Samore,
“Ending Russian Assistance to Iran’s Nuclear Bomb,” Survival, vol. 44, no. 2, Sum-
mer 2002, pp. 51–70.
100. Quoted in Michael Wines, “Russia to Resume Arms Sales to Iran,” Interna-
tional Herald Tribune, March 13, 2001.
101. Russian President Putin, quoted in International Herald Tribune, “Russia
and Iran Affirm Ties,” May 18, 2004, p. 3.
102. See Vladimir Orlov and Alexander Vinnikov, “The Great Guessing Game:
Russia and the Iranian Nuclear Issue,” Washington Quarterly, vol. 28, no. 2, Spring
2005, pp. 49–66.
103. Putin has said that “a country like Iran and the Iranian people must not be
humiliated.” See President Vladimir Putin, interview by Israeli Television Channel
One, April 20, 2005, http://www.kremlin.ru/eng/text/speeches/2005/04/201149_
104. Putin noted: “Our level of understanding (with the EU) on the Iranian
problem is rather high ... we follow one indisputable principle—the non-prolifera-
tion of nuclear weapons.” Quoted in “Putin Says Russia, EU Share Stance on Iran
Nuclear Issue,” ITAR-TASS (Moscow), March 18, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, March
20, 2005; see also Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, “Russia Hails Coordination with
Europe over Iran as ‘Important,’” RIA News Agency (Moscow), February 28, 2005,
in BBC Monitoring, March 2, 2005; and Katrin Benhold, “Russia Backs Initiative
from Europe on Iran,” International Herald Tribune, January 22–23, 2005, p. 5.
105. Quoted in “Putin Says Iran Does Not Need Nuclear Weapons,” IRNA
(Tehran), September 26, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, September 28, 2004. See also
“Iran Must Prove It Has No Nuclear Weapons—Putin,” ITAR-TASS (Moscow), Sep-
tember 24, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, September 25, 2004. Putin has said that Rus-
sia is “categorically opposed to enlarging the club of nuclear states, including the
addition of Iran.” Quoted in Richard Bernstein, “Looking More Closely at the Mes-
sage of Sochi,” International Herald Tribune, September 3, 2004, p. 2.
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194 | Notes

106. Los Angeles Times, “On Visit Putin Criticizes Iran’s Nuclear Program,” April
29, 2005, http://latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fq-briefs29.1apr291,
25355554,prnt. See also “Russia Advises Iran against Creating Its Own Nuclear
Fuel Cycle,” ITAR-TASS (Moscow), February 28, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, March
1, 2005; “Russian Atomic Energy Chief Details Plans for Nuclear Cooperation with
Iran,” Vremya Novostey (Moscow), May 12, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, May 18, 2005
107. The agreement was finally concluded on February 27, 2005. See Paul Kerr,
“Iran, Russia Reach Nuclear Agreement,” Arms Control Today, April 2005, pp. 35–6;
Brian Knowlton, “Russia Will Give Iran Fuel for Reactor,” International Herald Tri-
bune, February 28, 2005, pp. 1/8.
108. At the Sea Island G-8 summit, Putin committed Russia to halt nuclear
cooperation if Iran refused to be transparent and cooperate with the IAEA. Transcript
of press conference following the G-8 Summit, Sea Island, GA, June 11, 2004,
http://www.kremlin.ru/eng/text/speeches/2004/06/11/1401_72690.shtml. An Ira-
nian negotiator subsequently said: “Our talks with the Europeans were reaching a
standstill and the Russians sent a message to us, saying that if we reached a stand-
still, they would stop cooperating with us.” Hossein Mousavian, quoted on ISNA
website (Tehran), December 21, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, December 24, 2004.
109. David Sanger, “Russia Won’t Abandon Reactor Pact with Iran,” Interna-
tional Herald Tribune, September 29, 2003, p. 3; “Iran Unhappy with Russia’s Pro-
posed Time-Scale for Nuclear Plant,” IRNA (Tehran), February 27, 2005, in BBC
Monitoring, February 28, 2005; Reuters, “Russia Delays Nuke Fuel Shipments to
Iran—Source,” New York Times, April 11, 2005.
110. Some analysts consider Russia part of the problem rather than solution. See
Valerie Lincy and Gary Milhollin, “Russia’s Sweetheart Deal for Iran,” International
Herald Tribune, February 2, 2006, p. 8. Others see a Russian interest in “controlled
tensions” that increase Russia’s leverage. See Economist, “A Colder Coming We Have
of It,” January 21, 2006, p. 29.
111. The Russian arms deal comprised 30 Tor-M1 air defense missile systems
valued at between $700 million and $1.4 billion. See “Russia to Supply Surface-to-
Air Missile Systems to Iran,” Interfax–AVN military news agency (Moscow), Decem-
ber 2, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, December 3, 2005; and “Russia to Fulfil Its
Contract to Supply Air Defence Systems to Iran,” ITAR-TASS (Moscow), February
9, 2006, in BBC Monitoring, February 10, 2006. For Russian efforts to slow down
the momentum for sanctions, see Putin’s comments warning against “abrupt erro-
neous steps.” Elaine Sciolino and Alan Cowell, “Putin ‘Close’ to Iran Critics, but
Warns on Errors,” International Herald Tribune, January 17, 2006, pp. 1–8. This is
echoed by his Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in “Russian Minister Counsels
Extreme Caution in Handling Iranian Dispute,” RIA Novosti (Moscow), January 17,
2006, in BBC Monitoring, January 18, 2006. Russia’s caution led to slowing the
move to sanctions. Steve Weisman reports that “the West’s incremental approach is
*ch8 notes 8/3/06 8:35 AM Page 195

Notes | 195

a response to Russian and Chinese reluctance to press for immediate sanctions.” See
his article “West Tells Russia It Won’t Press to Penalize Iran Now,” New York Times,
January 19, 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/19/politics/19diplo.html?page-
wanted print.
112. “Russian Defence Minister Hopes Iran Problem Will Not Turn into Armed
Conflict,” ITAR-TASS (Moscow), January 9, 2006, in BBC Monitoring, January 10,
113. The violation was underlined by Russian representative Grigoriy Berden-
nikov at the IAEA. See “Russian Representative Says Iran Violated Agreement with
IAEA,” RTR Russia TV (Moscow), February 2, 2006, in BBC Monitoring, February
3, 2006. Foreign Minister Lavrov insisted on an indefinite freeze on enrichment as
a precondition for talks (not enforced) as indicative of Moscow’s desire to show its
toughness. See Associated Press, “Russia Offers Terms to Iran,” International Herald
Tribune, February 16, 2006. p. 5.
114. Rosatom chief Sergey Kiriyenko, quoted in “Russian Official Clarifies Pro-
posals to Resolve Iran Nuclear Problem,” ITAR-TASS (Moscow), January 25, 2006,
in BBC Monitoring, January 26, 2006.

Chapter Six

1. Significantly, Ali Larijani has recently called Iraq, where the Shiite are in the
ascendancy, “a natural ally.” Quoted in “Iran’s Security Chief Says Iraq Is Natural
Ally,” IRNA (Tehran), January 22, 2006, in BBC Monitoring, January 23, 2006.
2. The phrase is attributed to Hossein Agha; see his interview in, “Ariel Sharon
aura, peu fait, peu promis, mais énormément réalisé,” Le Monde, January 15-16,
2006, p. 14.
3. Ali Larijani met Muqtada Al Sadr and pledged Iran’s support for him, while
Muqtada offered “Islamic support” for Iran if it were attacked. See “Iraq’s Moqtada
Sadr Offers ‘Islamic’ Iran Support in Case of Attack,” Keyhan (Tehran), January 23,
2006, in BBC Monitoring, January 25, 2006.
4. Russia has sought to balance strategic and commercial relations with Iran with
its commitment to non-proliferation. Russia has argued on practical grounds that
Iran, with only one reactor operating in the near future, should find it uneconom-
ical to seek the full fuel cycle at this stage.
5. Some arms and technology issues are crucial in the current crisis over the
nuclear program, notably 30 Tor-M1 air defense missiles. See “Russia to Supply
Surface-to-Air Missile Systems to Iran,” Interfax-AVN military news agency
(Moscow), December 2, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, December 3, 2005; Alexandr
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196 | Notes

Kolesnichenko, “Iran: War Is Postponed,” Argumenty i Fakty (Moscow), December
20, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, December 23, 2005.
6. Reza Djalili uses the phrase in his excellent article, ‘Le Paradoxe Iranien,”
Enjeux Diplomatiques et Strategiques, 2005, p.158.
7. Shahram Chubin, “Whither Iran? Reform, Domestic Politics and National
Security,” Adelphi Paper no. 342 (London: Oxford University Press for IISS, 2002).
8. This statement was made by a moderate leader, Hasan Rowhani, in a report
before his resignation as Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council. See
“Iran’s Chief Negotiator Presents Khatami with Report on Nuclear Activities,” ISNA
(Tehran), July 31, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, August 3, 2005.
9. See the comments of the Commander in Chief of the Revolutionary Guards
Corps (IRGC), General Yahya Safavi, quoted in “Commander-in-Chief Criticizes
US; Details Naval Preparedness,” Keyhan (Tehran), June 8, 2005, in BBC Monitor-
ing, June 11, 2005. See also “Iran Press: Bush Using Military Bases for ‘Long-Term
Control’ of Iraq, Region,” Keyhan (Tehran), August 14, 2005, in BBC Monitoring,
August 17, 2005.
10. See, for example, Rami Khouri, “Monitor Iran’s Centrifuges and Its Honor,”
Daily Star (Beirut), August 10, 2005, http://www.dailystar.comlb/printable.asp?
11. Belatedly, the Arab states have stirred themselves to offset Iran’s influence in
Iraq. See Roula Khalaf, “Arab Countries Look to Play a Role Countering Iranian
Influence in Iraq,” Financial Times, October 15-16, 2005, p. 5.
12. The phrase is from Ali Shamkhani, quoted in “Iran Undisputable Regional
Power—Defence Minister,” IRNA (Tehran), August 29, 2004, in BBC Monitoring,
August 29, 2004.
13. Supreme Leader Khamenei’s advisor Ali Akbar Velayati and many others
have echoed this theme. See, for example, “Leader’s Advisor Says Enrichment
‘Imperative’ for Iran’s Progress,” Resalat (Tehran), October 30, 2004, in BBC Moni-
toring, November 3, 2004.
14. Najmeh Bozorgmehr, “Interview with Hossein Mousavian,” Financial Times,
February 3, 2005, p. 6.
15. See comments by Shamkhani on “deterrence,” quoted in Yossi Melman,
“Russia Joins International Community, Calls on Iran to Cease Enriching Uranium,”
Ha’aretz, August 9, 2005, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/objects/pages/PrintArti-
cleEn.jtml?itemNo60=610492; “Others Will Have to Accept Iran as a Regional
Power—Defence Minister,” Fars News Agency (Tehran), August 13, 2005, in BBC
Monitoring, August 14, 2005; “Defence Minister Says Iran Has Nuclear ‘Counter-
Attack’ Capability,” ISNA (Tehran), December 18, 2004, in BBC Monitoring, Decem-
ber 21, 2004. See also “Iran Seeks Regional Non-Aggression Pact: Defence Minister,”
Tehran Times, December 2, 2004, http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?12/2/
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Notes | 197

16. “Iran Election Program: Larijani Says US ‘Propaganda,’ Policy Different,”
IRNA (Tehran), June 3, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, June 7, 2005. On Iran’s new for-
eign policy see “Larijani Who Could Become Iran’s Next Foreign Minister Explains
His Principles,” ILNA (Tehran), July 22, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, July 23, 2005.
17. See Muwaffaq al-Rubay’i, “Iran, Iraq Assert Security Depends on Regional
States,” Mehr News Agency (Tehran), November 16, 2005, in BBC Monitoring,
November 17, 2005.
18. “Iran Negotiator Says President to Propose New Nuclear Solution,” IRNA
(Tehran), August 26, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, August 27, 2005. Larijani repeated
the threat when the reality of sanctions came closer, saying that “if these countries
use all their means to put Iran under pressure, Iran will use its potential in the
region.” Roula Khalaf and Gareth Smyth, “Russia and China Put Pressure on Iran,”
Financial Times, February 1, 2006, p. 5.
19. See Thomas Fuller, “Iran Rejects UN Nuclear Concerns as ‘Absurd,’” Inter-
national Herald Tribune, August 12, 2005, p. 3.
20. “Iran’s Rowhani Wraps Up Five Nation Tour,” IRNA (Tehran), June 15, 2005,
in BBC Monitoring, June 16, 2005. (Clearly, Pakistani participation would dilute
Iran’s influence.)
21. The Saudi King Abdullah noted that the war in Iraq had “served Iran’s inter-
ests.” Quoted in “Saudi King on Efforts to End Syrian Crisis, Terrorism in Iraq,” Al-
Hayat (London), November 27, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, November 28, 2005. For
Saudi security perceptions in this context, see Flynt Leverett, “Prince Turki Comes
to Washington,” International Herald Tribune, July 27, 2005, p. 6. Another concern
was indicated by a newspaper; see “Saudi Paper says Ahmadinejad’s ‘Religious Fer-
vour’ Might Influence Iraq,” Saudi Gazette (Jeddah), June 26, 2005, in BBC Moni-
toring, June 28, 2005.
22. See Abdulaziz Sager, “For Saudi Arabia and Iran, Searching for Security Is a
Priority,” Daily Star (Beirut), June 13, 2005, http://www.dailystar.comlb/
23. President Ahmadinejad expressed this rationale in New York in 2005. It is
a very different argument from the usual one that the Palestinians have been dispos-
sessed by the Israeli interlopers and that it is the duty of every Muslim to support
the Palestinians and not recognize Israel. See Corinne Lesnes, “Le President
Ahmadinejad defend devant l’ONU le droit au nucleaire et attaque les ‘puissants,’”
Le Monde, September 20, 2005, p. 5.
24. Kharrazi called Sistani’s role in Iraq “very valuable.” Quoted in “Iranian Min-
ister Says Ayatollah Al-Sistani’s Role ‘Very Valuable’ in Iraq,” IRNA (Tehran), May 20,
2005, in BBC Monitoring, May 21, 2005. Kharrazi observed that the U.S. presence
would end “sooner or later,” but Iran was Iraq’s permanent neighbor. Quoted in “Iran
Press: Editorial Praises Declaration by Minister Visiting Iraq,” Sharq (Tehran), May
22, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, May 25, 2005. For an excellent discussion, see Geof-
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198 | Notes

frey Kemp, “Iran and Iraq: The Shi’a Connection, Soft Power and the Nuclear Fac-
tor,” USIP Special Report no. 156 (Washington, DC: U.S. Institute of Peace, Novem-
ber 2005).
25. Hashemi Rafsanjani, quoted in “Senior Cleric Says Iraqi Elections a Victory,”
Voice of IRI Network (Tehran), December 16, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, December
17, 2005.
26. See Gareth Smyth, “Iran Agrees to Extend Iraq $1bn Credit,” Financial Times,
July 21, 2005, p. 7. More broadly, see Seymour Hersh, “Get Out the Vote,” New
Yorker, July 25, 2005, pp. 52–7; International Crisis Group (ICG), “Iran in Iraq: How
Much Influence?” ICG report no. 38 (London: ICG, March 21, 2005); Peter Gal-
braith, “Iraq: Bush’s Islamic Republic,” New York Review of Books, August 11, 2005,
pp. 6–9; and Abbas William Sami’i, “The Nearest and Dearest Enemy: Iran after the
Iraq War,” MERIA, vol. 9, no. 3, September 2005.
27. Hashemi Rafsanjani stated: “You see, now the Americans have become
bogged down in Iraq. They are suffocating.” Quoted in “Iran’s Rafsanjani Criticizes
US on UN Iraq Role,” Voice of the IRI (Tehran), September 12, 2003, in BBC Moni-
toring, September 13, 2003. Revolutionary Guards Commander General Yahya
Rahim Safavi referred to the “swamp” in which the United States finds itself in Iraq,
claiming that the United States seeks to “stay in Iraq and ... create disagreements
between the Shi’ites and Sunnis.” Quoted in “Iran Press: Guards Commander Says
USA Will Not Create Problems for Iran,” Siyasat–e Ruz (Tehran), May 21, 2005, in
BBC Monitoring, May 29, 2005.
28. The United States sees “continuing troubling indications of Iranian interfer-
ence in Iraqi internal affairs.” R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary of State for Polit-
ical Affairs, “US Policy Toward Iran,” testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, May 19, 2005, p. 7. National Security Advisor Steve Hadley also
expressed concern about Iran’s attempts to increase its influence in Iraq. See Brian
Knowlton, “US Warns N. Korea on Atomic Test,” International Herald Tribune, May
16, 2005, p. 4. See also, “Iraqi Papers Attack Iranian ‘Mullahs’ for Meddling in Iraq’s
Affairs,” Al Furat (Baghdad and Paris), May 14, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, May 20,
29. See, notably, Rafsanjani’s admonition to the United States to recognize Iran’s
right to nuclear technology, to accept that the revolution is permanent, and to adopt
a policy of compromise. Quoted in “Iranians Shall Benefit from All Gains of Nuclear
Science Soon: Rafsanjani,” IRI News Network (Tehran), February 11, 2005, in BBC
Monitoring, February 12, 2005. While running for president, he noted that Iran was
in a position to influence regional issues like Iraq and Afghanistan “very well”: “We
can prevent extremism in the region ... and help in the restoration of peace and calm
in the region.... if the Americans do not abuse public rights and entrust regional
affairs to the people themselves.” See “Iran’s Rafsanjani Says Continuation of Iran-
*ch8 notes 8/3/06 8:35 AM Page 199

Notes | 199

EU3 Dialogue ‘Best Option,’” IRNA (Tehran), May 11, 2005, in BBC Monitoring,
May 12, 2005.
30. Senator Joseph Biden Jr. (D-Del.), “Iran: Weapons Proliferation, Terrorism
and Democracy,” opening statement to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Rela-
tions, May 19, 2005, p. 2. The U.S. suggestion in November that Ambassador
Khalilzad was ready to engage Iran on Iraq was met by a rejection from Iran.
31. Peter Spiegel, “Roadside Bombs in Iraq Still Taking Heavy Toll on US Forces,”
Financial Times, August 19, 2005, p. 3; and Mouna Naim, “Les Accusations d’inger-
ence en Irak s’aggravent contre l’Iran,” Le Monde, August 20, 2005, p. 3.
32. U.S. intentions regarding future bases in Iraq remain cloudy. See Gary Hart,
“End This Evasion on Permanent Army Bases in Iraq,” Financial Times, January 4,
2006, p.13.
33. The arguments in favor of forward defense and regime change led, easily
enough, to the proposition that the lack of democracy was the principal cause of ter-
rorism and extremism and that forcible intervention could bring about a stable
democratic system. See Adam Roberts, “The ‘War on Terror’ in Historical Perspec-
tive,” Survival, vol. 47, no. 2, Summer 2005, p. 119. See also Senator John McCain
(R-AZ), “Security in the Middle East: New Challenges for NATO and the EU,” speech
delivered at Munich Security Conference, Munich, February 12, 2005,
feren. Secretary of State Rice stated that “in the Middle East, President Bush has bro-
ken with six decades of excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the
hope of purchasing stability at the price of liberty. The stakes could not be higher.
As long as the broader Middle East remains a region of tyranny and despair and
anger [it] will produce extremists and movements that threaten the safety of Amer-
icans and their friends.” Condoleezza Rice, confirmation hearing before the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee, January 18, 2005.
34. For a thorough and excellent discussion of U.S. policy since September
2001, see Robert Litwak, Regime Change: Through the Prism of 9/11 (Baltimore, MD:
Johns Hopkins University Press, forthcoming 2006).
35. While in Europe, President Bush called reports of a military attack on Iran
“simply ridiculous,” adding “having said that all options are on the table.” See Elis-
abeth Bumiller, “Bush May Weigh the Use of Incentives to Dissuade Iran,” New York
Times, February 24, 2005.
36. For indications that the United States is considering the military option, see
Seymour Hersh, “The Coming Wars,” New Yorker, January 2–31, 2005. Of a volu-
minous literature, see especially Ephraim Kam, “Curbing the Iranian Military Threat:
The Military Option,” Strategic Assessment, vol. 7, no. 3, December 2004; Richard
Betts, “The Osirak Fallacy,” National Interest, no. 83, Spring 2006, pp.22–5. Iran has
moved to put some of its facilities underground. See “Iran Is Said to Build Atom Stor-
age Tunnels,” International Herald Tribune, March 4, 2005, p. 3. For U.S. overstretch,
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200 | Notes

see Thom Shanker, “Pentagon Says Iraq Effort Limits Ability to Fight Other Con-
flicts,” New York Times, May 3, 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/03/poli-
37. Richard Clarke, “More Reasons to Invade Iran than Iraq,” Reuters,
http://asia.reuters.com/newsArticle.jtml?type=topNews&storyID=5372497. See
Daily Princetonian, “Blix Criticizes Bush Non-Proliferation Policies,” March 9, 2005,
38. For a report critical of U.S. intelligence, see Judge Laurence H. Silberman and
Senator Charles S. Robb, Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United
States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction (Washington, DC: White House, March
31, 2005). For press reports on parts related to Iran, see especially Douglas Jehl and
Eric Schmitt, “Data Lacking on Iran’s Arms, US Panel Says,” New York Times, March
9, 2005; and David Sanger and Scott Shane, “Panel Report Assails CIA for Failure
on Iraq Weapons,” New York Times, March 29, 2005; Andrew Tully, “US/Iran: For-
mer Weapons Inspector Says US Must Avoid Mistakes of Iraq,” Radio Free Europe
and Radio Liberty, February 8, 2005, http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/
2005/02/A5423980-B287-4DB9-811E-9D84DDE5D06B.html; and Joseph Nye,
“Heed Iraq Lessons to Avoid Disaster in Iran,” Financial Times, March 31, 2005, p.
15. For original Secretary of State Rice quote, see Associated Press (Paris),
39. On complication, see Ali Shamkhani, quoted in Ray Takeyh, “Deterring
Iran,” Baltimore Sun, June 22, 2003, http://www.baltimoresun.com/bal-
op.irannukes22jun22,0,7381263.story. On deterrent, see Ali Shamkhani, quoted in
“Iran Says Self-Sufficient in Producing Solid Fuel,” IRI News Network (Tehran), July
28, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, July 29, 2005. Shamkhani is also quoted as saying,
“I believe that the power of our regional influence stretches from Quds [Jerusalem]
to Kandahar, and nobody can deny our power.” Quoted in “Defence Minister Says
Iran Has Nuclear ‘Counter-Attack’ Capability,” ISNA (Tehran), December 18, 2004,
in BBC Monitoring, December 21, 2004. The press has been more blatant: “Colum-
nist Says Nuclear Fuel Cycle Needed for Strategic Superiority,” Keyhan (Tehran),
August 4, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, August 7, 2005.
40. Burns, “US Policy toward Iran.”
41. Burns, “US Policy toward Iran.”
42. For example, George Perkovich, Joseph Cirincione, Rose Gottemoeller, Jon
B. Wolfsthal, and Jessica T. Matthews, Universal Compliance: A Strategy for Nuclear
Security (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment, March 2005), p. 169. See also
Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-IN), The Lugar Survey on Proliferation Threats and
Responses (Washington, DC: U.S. Senate, June 2005), p. 30, which reported that Iran
and North Korea were listed by experts as the second most important priority in pro-
liferation after loose nukes in the former Soviet Union.
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Notes | 201

43. See Associated Press, “US Official Rips into Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions,”
MSNBC, January 30, 2005, http://www.msnbc.com,/id/6887724/print/1/display-
mode/1098. A Homeland Security report argued, “Only Iran appears to have the
possible motivation to use terrorist groups, in addition to its state agents, to plot
against the US homeland.” Eric Lipton, “A Rosier View of Terrorist-List Nations,”
International Herald Tribune, April 1, 2005, p. 1.
44. President Bush’s speech, quoted in Scott D. Sagan and Kenneth N. Waltz, The
Spread of Nuclear Weapons (New York: W.W. Norton, 2002), pp. 144–53, 201.
45. Burns, “US Policy toward Iran.”
46. President George W. Bush, speech delivered at the National Defense Univer-
sity (NDU), Washington, DC, February 11, 2004.
47. John R. Bolton, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International
Security, testimony before the House International Relations Subcommittee on the
Middle East and Central Asia, June 24, 2004.
48. This is the theme of several of Bracken’s works. See Paul Bracken, “The Sec-
ond Nuclear Age,” Foreign Affairs, vol. 79, no. 1, January/February 2000, pp.
49. See Christopher Adams and Hugh Williamson, “Rice Uses Europe Trip to Get
Tough with Iran,” Financial Times, February 5-6, 2005, p. 4; Burns, “US Policy
toward Iran”; and General John Abizaid, Head of US Central Command, quoted in
“US Commander Warns Iran Nukes May Invite Attack by Other Regional Power,”
March 2, 2005, http://news.yahoo.comnews?tmpl=story&cid=1521&u=/afp/
20050302/pl_afp/usiranabi. President Bill Clinton observed that if Iran developed
nuclear weapons, it would find it tough to use them. Naomi Koppel, “Clinton Urges
Diplomacy for Iran,” CBSNews.com, January 27, 2005, http://www.cbsnews.com/sto-
50. One could argue that the Iranian leadership’s use of the nuclear issue, includ-
ing its brinksmanship, for domestic benefits is a model. See Bennett Remberg, “A
Way to Break the Nuclear Impasse,” International Herald Tribune, March 24, 2005,
p. 7.
51. For a suggestion of a possible strategy, see George Perkovich, Iran Is Not an
Island: A Strategy to Mobilize the Neighbors, Policy Brief no. 34 (Washington, DC:
Carnegie Endowment, February 2005).
52. Amelia Gentleman, “Rice Tells India about US Worries on Iran Deal,” Inter-
national Herald Tribune, March 17, 2005, p. 2. The United States apparently is not
interested in assessing whether a major Iranian investment could give it an incen-
tive to maintain regional security. See also Philip Bowring, “How America’s Interests
Collide in Asia,” International Herald Tribune, March 22, 2005, p. 8.
53. Among other sources for background discussion about the regional reper-
cussions of an Iranian nuclear capability, see Richard Russell, “A Saudi Nuclear
Option?” Survival, vol. 43, no. 2, Summer 2001, pp. 69–79; Kathleen McInnis,
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202 | Notes

“Extended Deterrence: The US Credibility Gap in the Middle East,” Washington
Quarterly, vol. 28, no. 3, Summer 2005, pp. 169–86, together with Thomas W.
Lippman, “Saudi Arabia: The Calculations of Uncertainty,” pp. 111-44; Ellen Laip-
son, “Syria: Can the Myth Be Maintained without Nukes?” pp. 83-110; Leon Fuerth,
“Turkey: Nuclear Choices amongst Dangerous Neighbors,” all in The Nuclear Tipping
Point: Why States Reconsider Their Nuclear Choices, ed. Campbell, Einhorn, and Reiss.
See also Ian Lesser, “Turkey, Iran and Nuclear Risks,” pp. 89–112; Wyn Q. Bowen
and Joanna Kidd, “The Nuclear Capabilities and Ambitions of Iran’s Neighbors,” pp.
51–88, both chapters in Getting Ready for a Nuclear-Ready Iran, ed. Henry Sokolski
and Patrick Clawson (Washington, DC: Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army
War College, 2005). In addition, see George Perkovich and Silvia Manzanero, “The
Global Consequences of Iran’s Acquisition of Nuclear Weapons,” draft, Carnegie
Endowment, Washington, DC, April 2004; and Robert Einhorn, “Egypt: Frustrated
but Still on a Non-Nuclear Course,” in The Nuclear Tipping Point: Why States Recon-
sider Their Nuclear Choices, ed. Campbell, Einhorn, and Reiss, pp. 48–82; Mustafa
Alani, “Probable Attitudes of the GCC States toward the Scenario of a Military Action
against Iran’s Nuclear Facilities,” Policy Analysis (Dubai: Gulf Research Center,
November 2004); as well as Henry Sokolski and Patrick Clawson, eds., Checking
Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions (Washington, DC: Strategic Studies Institute, 2004).
54. “Editor Says Neighbours Fearful of Iran’s Drive to Acquire Nuclear Weapon,”
Al Sharq Al Awsat (London), October 8, 2003, in BBC Monitoring, October 10,
2003. The same newspaper noted that “Iran is not a peaceful country” and it “con-
tinues to occupy Arab land,” leading it to argue for regional cooperation and arms
control. See “Gulf Fears Being Scorched by Iran’s Nuclear Activities,” Al Sharq Al
Awsat (London), June 12, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, June 15, 2005.
55. Mustafa Alani, “Probable Attitudes of the GCC States toward the Scenario of
a Military Action against Iran’s Nuclear Facilities,” Gulf Research Center Report on
GCC Attitudes toward Iran’s Nuclear Program, Policy Analysis (Dubai: Gulf Research
Center, November 2004).
56. For a GCC official’s critique of Iran’s nuclear program, see Anwar al-Khatib,
“Al Attiyah: Iran’s Possession of Nuclear Weapons Causing Apprehensions in the
GCC States,” Al-Rayah, November 28, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, November 30,
2005; “Editorial Says Gulf Summit Signifies Tougher Stand against Iran” [text of edi-
torial headlined “Important Gulf Summit by Any Yardstick], Al Quds al-Arabi web-
site (London), December 20, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, December 21, 2005. “Gulf
States Declare Iran’s Nuclear Program ‘Worrisome,’” Al-Jazeera satellite TV, Decem-
ber 18, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, December 19, 2005. See also Simon Henderson,
“The Elephant in the Gulf: Arab States and Iran’s Nuclear Program,” Policywatch,
no.1065 (Washington, DC: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, December 21,
2005); Emily Landau, “Taking a Stand on a Nuclear Iran: Voices from the Persian
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Notes | 203

Gulf,” Tel Aviv Notes, no.157 (Tel Aviv: Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, January
16, 2006).
57. “Saudi Crown Prince on Iranian Nuclear Plans, Terrorism,” SPA (Riyadh),
December 25, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, December 26, 2005; in a London inter-
view, Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal asked of Iran: “Where are they going to use
these weapons? If they hit Israel, they are going to kill Palestinians. If they miss
Israel, they are going to hit Saudi Arabia or Jordan. Where is the gain in that?” See
Frank Gardner, “Iran Nuclear Bid Fault of West,” BBC, January 16, 2006,
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4615832.stm); and text of report by
Iranian news agency, “Saudi FM says West Partly to Blame for Nuclear Stand-off with
Iran,” IRNA website (Tehran), January 16, 2006, in BBC Monitoring, January 17,
2006; “Saudi FM Opposes Iranian Attempts to Build Nukes,” Jerusalem Post online,
January 16, 2006.
58. For a brief discussion, see Henry Sokolski, “Defusing the Mullah’s Bomb,”
Policy Review, August 3, 2005, http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Printable.
59. For full references, see Chubin, “Whither Iran?”
60. See Pramit Mitra, “India’s International Oil Ties Risk US Displeasure,” Inter-
national Herald Tribune, April 7, 2005, p. 6.
61. This was implicit in Hashemi Rafsanjani’s controversial comments on this
issue. See “Rafsanjani Warns of High Cost of US Support for Israel,” Voice of IRI Net-
work (Tehran), December 14, 2001, in BBC Monitoring, December 15, 2001.


1. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has said that Iran is “strongly oppos-
ing [U.S.] domineering policies in the region,” and that the United States is “build-
ing an empire. They want domination over the whole world. America has plans for
the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, and North Africa.” Quoted, respectively, in “Ira-
nian Leader Says International Relations Should Not Be Selective,” Voice of IRI
(Tehran), October 21, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, October 22, 2005; and “Regimes
Destroyed by Nations’ Resistance Not Nuclear Weapons—Iran’s Leader,” Voice of IRI
(Tehran), October 30, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, November 1, 2005.
2. See, for example, “Dangers the Outsiders Pose to the Region,” Keyhan, Novem-
ber 8, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, November 9, 2005.
3. Iranian First Vice President Parviz Davudi noted that “Russia and China are
‘priority’ countries for Iran’s policy,” quoted in “Iranian Vice-President Says Russia,
China Policy Priorities,” ITAR-TASS News Agency (Moscow), October 26, 2005, in
BBC Monitoring, October 28, 2005.
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204 | Notes

4. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, quoted in “Iranian President Addresses
Parliament, Says Wants Justice in Foreign Policy,” IRI News Network (Tehran), August
21, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, August 22, 2005.
5. Ali Larijani, quoted in Mehr News Agency (Tehran), “Iranian Nuclear Chief
Says No Alternative but to Resist Pressure by Big Powers,” September 28, 2005.
6. Ali Larijani has resorted to a favorite Iranian tactic, linking Iran’s security to
regional security and implicitly threatening to destabilize the region if threatened.
Associated Press, “Iran Envoy Insists on Pursuit of Enrichment,” International Her-
ald Tribune, August 27, 2005. For earlier examples, see regional chapter above and
Shahram Chubin, “Whither Iran? Reform, Domestic Politics and National Secu-
rity,” Adelphi Paper no. 342 (London: Oxford University Press for IISS, 2002).
7. See “Iran Guards Chief (General Yahya Rahim-Safavi) Says ‘Political Pressure
Will Prompt Strong Reaction,’” IRNA (Tehran), September 23, 2005, in BBC Mon-
itoring, September 24, 2005.
8. Ambiguous or incoherent, Iran seeks at once a stabilized Iraq and an Iraq free
of foreign forces. Whether the two are compatible is not self-evident.
9. Saudi Arabia canceled a visit of the Iranian foreign minister to the kingdom
in October to express disagreement over Iran’s interference in Iraq. See “Middle
East Split over Iraq,” Al-Jazeera, October 5, 2005. See also “Turkish Columnist
Notes Iran’s Growing Influence in the Region,” and Nasuhi Gungor, “Iran Raises the
Bar,” Istanbul Milli Gazette, October 31, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, November 3,
2005; Sami Kohen, “Iran’s President’s Remarks on Israel Signal ‘New Danger’—
Turkish Paper,” Milliyet website, November 1, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, November
3, 2005.
10. Ephraim Sneh, “Between North Korea and Iran,” Jerusalem Post, September
22, 2005.
11. Anatol Lieven, “Lessons of Iraq: If You Can’t Lick ’em, Try Diplomacy,” Inter-
national Herald Tribune, September 10-11, 2005, p. 6; see also Anatol Lieven,
“Engage Muslim Support or Lose the War,” Financial Times, July 14, 2005, p. 15.
12. Iranian families “are interested in first and foremost in how to ensure their
livelihood.” See “Daily Criticises Iranian Government for Causing World Tension,”
Mardom -Salari (Tehran), October 30, 2005, in BBC Monitoring, November 1, 2005.
Afshin Molavi writes, “Most Iranians concern themselves far more with the price of
meat and onions than with the Arab-Israeli peace process or uranium enrichment.”
See International Herald Tribune, “No Time to Abandon Our Natural Allies,” Novem-
ber 4, 2005, p. 6.
13. See Jessica T. Mathews, “Speak to Iran in One Voice,” International Herald Tri-
bune, March 22, 2006, p. 8; and George Perkovich, testimony before the House
Armed Services Committee, February 1, 2006.
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Al Qaeda Islamist terrorist group headed by Osama bin
Laden, responsible for the attacks on the United
States on September 11, 2001. Umbrella orga-
nization for terrorist groups worldwide.
Aum Shinrikyo Japanese religious sect (Hindu and Buddhist
mix), responsible for sarin gas attack in Tokyo
subway system in 1995.
AQ Khan network Network engaged in the proliferation of nuclear
Badr Brigade Armed wing of the Supreme Council for the
Islamic Republic of Iraq (SCIRI).
Basij A paramilitary organ affiliated to IRGC, lightly
armed, numerous, and dispersed throughout
country, intended to deal with civil unrest.
Guardian Council Consisting of clerics and lawyers, whose task is
to interpret new laws passed by parliament and
determine if they are consistent with Islamic
law or the constitution. Although it is not a leg-
islative body, it has veto power over the Iranian
Hamas Palestinian Islamist (Sunni) paramilitary orga-
nization and political party.

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206 | Glossary

Hezbollah Islamist (Shiite) political party, founded to
oppose Israeli insertions into southern
IRGC Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (aka Pas-
daran). The parallel military organization set
up by revolutionary Iran to assure internal or
domestic security primarily. They control the
missile program and sensitive WMD sites.
Islamic Jihad Syrian-based Islamist group, responsible for
1983 U.S. Embassy bombing in Lebanon.
Karine A Freighter intercepted by Israeli Defense Force in
December 2001, which was carrying weapons
loaded in Iran and destined for Palestinian
Keyhan newspaper Most conservative Iranian newspaper, under
direct supervision of the Office of the Supreme
Majles Iranian parliament.
Taliban Fundamentalist Islamist group, who sheltered
Al Qaeda during their five-year reign in


Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Succeeded Mohammed Khatami when elected
President of Iran August 2005. Former Mayor
of Tehran. Considered to be a religious conser-
Mohammad Al Baradei Director-General of the International Atomic
Energy Agency since 1997. Recipient of the
Nobel Peace Prize for 2005.
John R. Bolton U.S. ambassador to the UN since August 2005.
Saddam Hussein Former president of Iraq. Accessed power
through the secular Baath Party, assuming the
position of president of Iraq in 1979.
Ibrahim Al-JJafaari Prime Minister of Iraq January 2005–May 2006.
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Glossary | 207

AQ Khan Abdul Qadeer Khan, “Godfather” of Pakistan’s
nuclear weapons program.
Ayatollah Khamenei Seyyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei, Supreme
Leader of Iran.
Kamal Kharrazi Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs from August
20, 1997, to August 24, 2005. Iranian repre-
sentative at the UN from 1989 to 1997.
Kim Jong-Il Chairman of the National Defense Committee
and General Secretary of the Korean Workers’
Party. North Korea’s leader since 1994.
Ali Larijani Conservative Iranian politician. Replaced
Hasan Rowhani in August 2005 as the Secretary
of the Supreme National Security Council. Pres-
ident of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting
(IRIB) from 1994 to 2004. Placed sixth in Ira-
nian presidential elections of 2005.
Mostafa Moin Iranian reformist presidential candidate in 2005
elections. Supported by the Islamic Iran Partic-
ipation Front.
Hossein Mousavian Former senior Iranian nuclear negotiator.
Sirus Naseri Senior nuclear negotiator (until August 2005).
Mohammad Bager Qalibaf Former head of police, resigned in order to run
for president in 2005 elections, succeeded
Ahmadinejad as mayor of Tehran.
Hashemi Rafsanjani Chairman of the Expediency Discernment
Council of Iran. Former president of Iran from
1989 to 1997. Lost election for a third term to
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005 elections.
Mohsen Rezai Former Guards Commander (IRGC) from 1981
to 1997. Secretary of Expediency Council.
Hasan Rowhani Hojjat-el-Eslam Former Secretary of the SNSC acting as chief
negotiator with the EU-3 over Iranian nuclear
Yahya Rahim Safavi Revolutionary Guards Commander.
Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi Shah of Iran from 1941 to 1979.
Admiral Ali Shamkhani Iranian Defense Minister replaced by Brigadier
General Mustafa Mohammad Najjar.
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208 | Glossary

Hossein Shariatmadri Editor of hard-line Keyhan newspaper. Repre-
sentative of Supreme Leader Khamenei.
Javier Solana High Representative for the Common Foreign
and Security Policy, Secretary-General of the
Council of the European Union.
Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani Senior Shiite cleric in Iraq.
Ali Akbar Velayati Former foreign minister. Advisor on interna-
tional affairs to Supreme Leader Khamenei.


Arak Heavy water production plant.
Natanz (near Isfahan) Uranium enrichment facility.
Bushire Site of nearly completed reactor on the Persian
Lavizan/Parchin Sites and barracks with some nuclear-related
*ch9 backmatter 8/3/06 8:34 AM Page 209


Abdullah (King of Saudi Arabia), 118, 197n23; election of, 36, 90; hard-
197n21 line stance of, 77–78, 180n67;
Abu Dhabi, 117 indifference toward international
Abu Ghraib, 116–17, 126 opinion, 34, 163n2; military sup-
access and denial: as security policy, port for administration of, 32–33;
115–16 on nuclear discrimination against
Additional Protocol (AP): acceptance Iran, 20; nuclear issues under, 35;
of, 9, 18, 32, 65; Iran’s threats to on political corruption of foreign
suspend, 72, 78; pressure from policy critics, 35, 160n42; pop-
IAEA to ratify, 101; value of, 82 ulist victory of, 30; on regional
AEO. See Atomic Energy Organization influence of U.S., 134–35
of Iran (AEO) AIPAC (Israeli lobby), 90, 184n28
Afghanistan: Iran/Russian cooperation Annan, Kofi, 149n5
in, 108, 112, 114; marginalization anti-Americanism: Iran’s exploitation
of Taliban in, 14; U.S. bases in, of, 11, 114, 122; promoting pre-
123 ferred regional order of Iran,
Agha, Hossein, 195n2 83–84
Aghazadeh, Reza, 72–73, 169n47, AP. See Additional Protocol (AP)
177n43 AQ Kahn network, 3, 7, 45, 64,
Agreed Framework (North 164n6
Korea/U.S.), 20, 91, 158n22 Arab–Iran polarization, 114
Ahmadinejad, Mahmoud: administra- Arak heavy water reactor, 25, 45, 70,
tion as throwback to revolution- 163n3
ary days, 32–33; on duty of Armenia: Russia/Iran cooperation in,
Muslims to oppose Israel, 108

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arms race: of Iran and Iraq, 20 198n28; on regimes and nuclear
arms sales: AQ Kahn network and, 3, technology, 84, 181n5; on U.S.
7, 45, 64, 164n6; limits on, 109; support of EU negotiations,
to Palestine by Iran, 89; Russian, 186n43
history of, 108–9; Russian air Bush, George W.: on axis of evil, 21; on
defense missile sales to Iran, 110, countries supporting terrorism,
194n111, 196n5 167n28; denial of plans to attack
Asculai, Ephraim, 181n1, 188n55 Iran, 187n47; on denying WMDs
Atlantic Institute, 183n23 to rogue states, 51; differentiation
atomic energy. See nuclear technology between Iran as nation and regime,
Atomic Energy Organization of Iran 84; on interception of missile-
(AEO): decision making and, 37; related technology for Iran, 165n9;
elimination of negotiating respon- on limiting uranium enrichment,
sibilities, 66; military contacts 86; on loopholes in nuclear non-
with, 45; opposition to enrich- proliferation treaty, 5–6; on open-
ment freeze, 40–41, 162n50 ness of democracy, 83, 181n5; on
axis of evil, 2, 21, 89, 154n31 unacceptability of nuclear
Azerbaijan: Iran/Russian cooperation weapons for Iran, 186nn41–42
in, 114 Bushire reactor, 163n3; lack of infor-
mation about, 166n19; restarting
Badr Brigade, 120 of project, 7, 24; return of spent
Bahrain: U.S. bases in, 123 fuel to Russia, 110; Russian train-
Al Baradei, Mohammad: on credibility ing of technicians for, 109
of IAEA, 97; on Iran’s confidence
deficit, 71; on noncompliance, Campbell, Kurt M., 150n12
96–97, 188n53, 188n58, Carnesale, Albert, 156n5
189n60; on nuclear capability as Caucasus: U.S. role in, 123
deterrent, 62; on proliferation, Central Asia: U.S. role in, 123
102, 190n75; on referral of Iran centrifuge technology: acquisition
to UNSC, 99, 181n1; report on from Pakistan, 45, 164n5; EU-
centrifuge testing in Iran, 79; 3/U.S. positions in Iran negotia-
report on Iran compliance, 78; on tions, 105; Iran’s testing of, 79
restoration of credibility by Iran, Cheney, Richard, 84, 187n47
99; visit to Tehran (2003), 9 China: as foreign relations priority for
Berdennikov, Grigoriy, 195n113 Iran, 15, 134, 136; gas contracts
Biden, Joseph, 184n30 with, 173n8; Proliferation Secu-
Blix, Hans, 152nn21 rity Initiative and, 182n9
Bolton, John, 89, 126 conservatives: openness to engage-
brinksmanship: benefits of, 35; Iran’s ment, 32; role in nuclear policy
practice of, 126, 135, 201n50 debate, 31–36; support for
Burns, Nicholas: on Iranian interfer- nuclear program, 31–32, 159n31,
ence in Iraq’s internal affairs, 159n33
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containment, 84, 85 European Union Group of 3 (EU-3):
co-option, 85 agreement to report Iran to
Cordesman, Tony, 165n9, 169n48, UNSC, 106–7; assessment of
192n97 response to Iran, 107–8,
Council on Foreign Relations, 183n23 192n96, 192n97; as buffer and
intermediary, 73; distrust of
Davudi, Parviz, 203n3 Iran’s negotiating tactics, 68–70;
Dawa Party (Iraq), 120 fuel cycle proposal, 104–5; IAEA
decision making, nuclear, 36–37, reduction of constraints on Iran,
38f–39f 3–4; IAEA support strengthening
democracy: openness of, 83, 181n5; diplomatic initiative, 102; Iran’s
U.S. promotion in Middle East, negotiating strategies with,
84, 122, 199n33 66–68; negotiation of constraints
deniability, 44 on Iran, 8–9; nuclear program
denial and access: as security policy, vs. regime in negotiations,
115–16 103–4; rejection of package deal
DeSutter, Paula, 169n45 by Iran, 106, 139; renewal of
deterrence: full fuel cycle as, 60, 62; package offer, 143; Russian sup-
nuclear weapons as, 58; regime port of initiatives, 109–10;
change as complement to, three-way negotiations with Iran
185n33 and U.S., 103–6; U.S. support of
dual containment, 4, 115–16 diplomatic initiative, 91–93,
141–42, 143, 185n43
Egypt: response to nuclear Iran, Expediency Discernment Council of
129–30 Iran, 22, 24
Einhorn, Robert, 150n12
electricity: nuclear production of, faith-based intelligence, 124
24–25, 155n3 foreign relations of Iran, 150n3; chal-
energy diversification, 24–26 lenge to international order,
engagement, diplomatic, 142–45; 136–37; diminished role for U.S.
conservatives’ openness to, 32; and the West, 113; diplomacy in,
failure of, 89, 90, 183n23; as 23; priorities in, 134, 135, 136,
IAEA policy, 82; military option 203n3; as threat to neighboring
as alternative to, 146; as regime countries, 16; unremarkable
endorsement, 184n31; sanctions nature of, 15. See also regional
as tool of, 143; U.S. vs. EU-3 atti- security
tudes toward, 104, 138; viability Freedman, Lawrence, 153n27
of, 185n33 fuel cycle: as breakout option for
enrichment. See uranium enrichment nuclear proliferation, 60, 62; as
European Union (EU): Iran’s relations deterrent, 62; energy diversifica-
with, 74, 178n50; security strat- tion and, 24; EU-3 proposal to
egy of, 103 Iran, 104–5; Iran’s quest for, 59,
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66, 163n3; as political issue, 4, IAEA. See International Atomic Energy
30, 42–43; as right under NPT, Agency (IAEA)
73–74 ideological conservatives, 32–34,
gasoline: demand for vs. electricity, 26 incentives for negotiation, 143
GCC. See Gulf Cooperation Council India: gas pipeline agreement with
(GCC) Iran, 127, 173n8, 180n66; Pak-
Giles, Gregory, 169n45 istani support for terrorist attacks
globalization, 85 on, 169n44; regime compared
global positioning system (GPS), 47 with Iran, 181n5; relations with
Goldschmidt, Pierre, 176n35 Iran, 15, 150n3
Gore–Chernomyrdin agreement, 109 inspections of nuclear facilities, 71
Goss, Peter, 168n42 instability of region: exploitation of,
grey markets: nuclear technology and, 114, 137, 195n3; nuclear issues
85 linked to, 63–80; as political tool,
Group of 8 (G-8): EU security and 83–84
cooperation with, 103; Russian intelligence: estimates of Iran’s nuclear
participation in, 110, 194n108; capability, 46, 165nn8–9,
U.S. lobbying for sanctions 186n44; inadequacies of, 123–24
against Iran, 182n14 International Atomic Energy Agency
Guardian council, 40 (IAEA): approach to nuclear pro-
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), 15; liferation, 95–99; as buffer
distrust of Iran’s regional ambi- between Iran and U.S., 101,
tions, 118; Iran’s confidence- 189n71; concerns about Iran’s
building measures toward, 121; nuclear program, 45; corporate
response to Iran’s nuclear pro- culture of, 96; credibility as inde-
grams, 128–30 pendent agency, 97, 100; Iranian
Gulf weapons of mass destruction free cooperation with, 4, 67, 139;
zone (WMDFZ), 128, 130 Iran’s violation of obligations to,
111, 195n113; lack of NPT
Haass, Richard, 185n33 enforcement powers, 95–96;
Hadley, Steve, 198n28 negotiations policies of, 82; non-
Hamas: Iran’s support of, 52; Iran sup- aligned states’ sympathy for con-
port of, 51, 114, 119 straints on Iran, 3–4; notice to
Hezbollah: Al Qaeda vs., 52; Iran’s Iran of referral to UNSC, 34; per-
support of, 51–53, 119, 122, 131 formance assessment of, 99–102;
High-Level Panel on Threats, Chal- rejection of Iran’s threats, 79; rela-
lenges, and Change (United tions of Iran with, 100–101;
Nations Secretary General), reporting obligations to UNSC,
149n5 181n1; resolution (2006) regard-
Hussein, Saddam, 8 ing Iran, 98–99; Russian support
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Index | 213

for nonproliferation policies, 109; Iran–Arab polarization, 114
strengthening EU-3 diplomatic Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps
initiative, 102; technical assis- (IRGC). See Revolutionary Guards
tance to Iran, 100, 189n67; twin Iran–Iraq Arms Non-Proliferation Act,
mandate of, 95; U.S. pressure for 87
referral of Iran to UNSC, 81, 91, Iran–Iraq War (1986): Iranian interest
99; verification problems of, 96 in nuclear power and, 7; Iran’s
Iran: ambition as regional power, 14, security strategies and, 17–19, 20,
16, 19, 83–84, 151nn6–8, 152n18, 153n24; political lessons
152nn20–22, 163n2; anti-NATO for regime, 12; UN resolution
and anti-Western orientation of, ending, 17; unresolved issues in,
134; closed nature of political sys- 120
tem, 44, 48–50, 166n19; conven- Iran–Libya Sanctions Act (1996), 87
tional weapons capabilities of, 55, Iran–U.S. relations: anti-Americanism
169n48; defense budget of, in, 11, 83–84, 114, 122; attempts
169n48; demonizing of, 90, to divide Europe and U.S., 78;
184n28; denying right of Israel to challenge to U.S.-inspired
exist, 119, 130; dependence on regional order, 3–4, 83, 134,
uranium imports, 25, 156n5; eco- 203n1; difficulties in resolving
nomic costs of sanctions on, differences, 143–45; EU-3 as
87–88, 116, 183n17; geopolitical intermediary in, 103–6, 191n79;
assets of, 15; international rela- incoherence of U.S. policy toward
tions (See foreign relations of Iran, 82, 90, 138; models for, 76;
Iran); Islamic regime in (See nation vs. regime in, 84; negotiat-
Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI)); as ing behavior and, 77; regime
minority Shiite state, 114; negoti- change and (See regime change);
ating strategy of (See negotiating U.S. as threat to Iran, 14, 66,
strategies of Iran); pragmatic 150n2; U.S. policy shift to
opportunism of, 44, 53; reduced democratization, 84, 95, 122,
sense of vulnerability, 118, 199n33; U.S. role in negotiations
197n18; relations with Iraq (See and, 75–76
Iraq); relations with U.S. (See Iraq: ambiguous Iran policies toward,
Iran–U.S. relations); revolutionary 135, 204n8; as Arab Shiite state,
values of, 1, 18, 19, 113, 151n12, 118; border dispute with Iran,
159n34; risk-taking behavior of, 118; convergence of Iran/U.S.
131; as sponsor of terrorism, interests in, 119–20; disarmament
51–54, 83–84, 136; as status quo after Desert Storm, 20; insurgency
power, 136; strategic environment in, 135; Iranian influence in inter-
of, 14, 136–37; strategic partner- nal affairs of, 117, 198n28; as
ship with Russia, 15, 108, natural ally of Iran, 195n1
114–15, 196n5; as victim of its Iraq War (1991): Iraqi disarmament
own behavior, 140–41 after, 20
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214 | Index

Iraq War (2003– ): EU position on exist, 119, 130; Iran’s exploitation
WMD proliferation and, 102–3; of hostility toward, 136; Iran’s
intelligence debacle of, 124–25; rejection of Libyan model regard-
loss of U.S. credibility and moral ing, 76; Iran vs. Iraq as threat to,
authority, 114, 116–17, 126; 131; refusal to accept limited
makeover of Middle East as objec- strike concept, 132; response to
tive of, 116; outcome affecting Iran’s nuclear ambitions, 130–33,
U.S. regional standing, 119; 135; response to threat from Iran,
reducing U.S. threat to Iran, 23, 132; threat from Iranian missiles,
117, 121, 123, 135, 198n27; 47, 131; ultranationalist attitude
regional opposition to U.S. pres- toward, 77–78; U.S. commitment
ence and, 114; U.S. and United to, 123; warnings about Iran’s
Kingdom vulnerability in, nuclear program, 131
155n39; WMDs as justification Ivanov, Sergey, 110
for, 20
IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guards Al-Jafaari, Ibrahim, 120
Corps). See Revolutionary Guards
Isfahan uranium enrichment facility, Karine A affair, 89
68, 164n6 Karrubi, Hojat-el Eslam, 179n58
Islamic Jihad: Iran’s support of, 52; Keyhan (newspaper), 36
Iran support for, 51, 114, 119 Kelayeh (Iran), 71
Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI): closed Khamenei, Ali: on arrogance of U.S.,
nature of, 44, 48–50, 166n19; as 153n23; on denial of technology
Gulf role model, 113; hardline and self-sufficiency, 152n18,
government and nuclear ambi- 152n22; on empire-building by
tions, 126; India regime vs., U.S., 203n1; fatwa banning
181n5; interest in nuclear power, weapons of mass destruction, 57;
history of, 7; Iran-Iraq War les- on intentions of U.S. to invade
sons for, 12; limitations of nuclear Iran, 173n5; on Iranian access to
issues for, 43; nuclear capability nuclear technology, 27, 30; on
and legitimization of regime, Iran’s regional ambitions, 151n6;
26–27, 41–42, 137; regime dis- neutrality on nuclear issues, 35;
trust limiting acceptance of nuclear decision making and, 37
nuclear ambitions, 10–11, 138; Kharrazi, Kamal, 166n16, 197n24
remaining in power as regime Kim Jong Il, 169n50
goal, 140; uncertainty about Korea. See North Korea
international goals of, 1
Israel: conventional weapons capabili- Lankarani, Fazel, 150n2
ties of, 170n56; demonizing of Larijani, Ali, 79, 195n3; on acquisi-
Iran, 184n28; duty of Middle East tion of full fuel cycle, 30;
countries to oppose, 119, approach to nuclear issues, 35; as
197n23; Iran’s denial of right to chief nuclear negotiator, 37,
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38f–39f; on destabilization and missiles: domestic industry and Iran
nuclear capability, 169n47; disso- self-sufficiency, 20, 153n26; Iran-
ciation from Ahmadinejad, ian, threat of, 47–48, 131; Iran’s
180n73; on foreign sensitivity to nuclear program and, 48, 55,
nuclear activities, 33; on Iran and 165n9, 166nn12–18; North
Iraq as natural allies, 195n1; on Korean assistance in, 46; Russian
Iran’s regional ambitions, 117–18, sales to Iran, 110, 194n111,
197n18; linking Iranian and 196n5; as substitute for air power,
regional security, 204n6; on raw 48; technology as metaphor,
power politics, 151n6; on rela- 165n11; theater missile defenses,
tionship with Russia, 160n39 146
Lavizan (Iran), 45, 71 Moin, Mostafa, 29
Lavrov, Segey, 160n39, 195n113 Mousavian, Hossein: on Iranian public
Levite, Ariel, 60, 62 opinion, 161nn46–47; on signing
Libya: acquisition of nuclear weapons of 2004 agreement, 172n2; on
designs, 45, 164n6; decision to U.S. encirclement of Iran, 117,
give up WMD activities, 63; Iran’s 151n8
view of, 17; recognition of Israel, Mujahideen i-Khalq (MOK), 97
76; sanctions affecting regime Muqtada al Sadr, 114, 120, 195n3
policies, 88; weapons technology Mykonos assassinations, 168n35
obtained from Pakistan, 2–3
Lugar, Richard, 51, 90, 200n42 NAM (nonaligned movement), 78,
Majles, 40, 49, 78 narcissism of Iran, 163n2
Mazarr, Michael, 172n74 Naseri, Sirus: on Iran’s nuclear capa-
McCain, John, 91 bilities, 45–46, 177n46; on politi-
Middle East: duty of Muslim countries cal importance of Iran to Europe,
to oppose Israel, 119, 197n23; 74; on shifting balance of power,
loss of U.S. reputation in, 127; 118
strategic context of, 122–23; U.S. Natanz uranium enrichment project,
creation of new regional order, 3; 22, 25, 45
U.S. military presence following nationalism, Iranian, 17–18
9/11 attacks, 116, 123; U.S. pol- NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organi-
icy and democratization of, 122, zation), 15, 134
199n33. See also regional security; negotiating strategies of Iran, 63–80;
individual countries assuring other nations of peaceful
military presence, U.S.: Iraq War intentions, 74–75; attempts to
reducing threat to Iran, 22, 23, divide Europe and U.S., 78; buy-
123, 135; Middle East bases, 123; ing time in, 73; confidence build-
post-9/11 extension of, 116 ing and, 68–73, 175n26; defining
mini-nukes, 22 elements of, 64; demonstrations
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of good faith, 65–66, 172n2; fail- enrichment projects (See uranium
ure of tactics, 79, 80, 180n73; enrichment); fear of, 44–63; full
inconsistencies and late declara- fuel cycle (See fuel cycle); goals
tions in, 68; obstructionism in, of, 11–13; ineffectiveness of U.S.
71; parallels with North Korea’s policy toward, 138–39; infra-
style, 175n26; regional stability structure (See nuclear technol-
linked to nuclear issues, 63–80; ogy); international response to,
schizophrenic nature of, 72, 81–112, 132–33; justification for,
177n40; spoiler tactics in, 80, 6–8, 17–18, 57, 58, 150n10,
119; strategic context of, 65; tac- 170n56; limited agreements on,
tics causing mistrust by other 139; policy options and, 17,
nations, 68–75, 140, 179n63; 31–36, 141–47; political impor-
ultranationalism and, 77–78; U.S. tance of, 122, 137; regional
role in negotiations, 75–80, aspects of, 10–11, 128, 134
179n58, 179n63; use of EU-3 nuclear capability: behavior of Iran
channels to postpone crisis, and, 53–55; destabilization and,
66–68 54–55, 169n47; intelligence esti-
nonaligned movement (NAM), 78, mates of, 46, 165nn8–9, 186n44;
190n74 Iran’s self-image of, 45–46, 93,
noncompliance: definition of, 96–97 157n12, 171n68, 177n46,
nongovernmental organizations 186n44; models for, 60, 61f;
(NGOs): U.S. support for, 84 nationalism and, 17–18; as pro-
North Atlantic Treaty Organization tection against regime change, 10,
(NATO), 15, 134 181n5; Revolutionary Guards as
North Korea: Agreed Framework, 20, custodians of, 54, 169n45; steps
91, 158n22; cooperation on toward achieving, 4–5; terrorism
weapons technology with other support by Iran and, 54
rogue states, 2–3; as inappropriate nuclear hedging, 60
model for Iran’s nuclear program, nuclear proliferation: as continuum,
17; ineffectiveness of UNSC sanc- 60; discriminatory character of
tions against, 82; Iran’s missile constraints on, 149n2; EU-3
program and, 46–47; nuclear pro- approach to, 102–8; EU nonpro-
liferation influence on Iran, 56; liferation clause, 103; IAEA
parallels with Iran’s negotiating approach to, 95–99; influence of
style, 175n26; U.S. restraint in other proliferators on Iran, 55;
dealing with, 20–21, 153n27; Iran as tipping point for, 1, 17,
withdrawal from NPT, 63 51, 124, 200n42; links with ter-
NPT. See Treaty on the Non- rorism, 3, 149n5; military options
Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons for limiting, 94, 123, 135,
(NPT) 187n47, 199n35; priorities for
nuclear ambitions of Iran: capabilities containment, 200n42; regional
and (See nuclear capability); context of, 126; Russian approach
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to, 108–12, 160n39; sanctions contracts with IAEA countries,
against, 87–88, 182n14, 183n17; 66, 173n8; tight energy market
Tehran agreement on, 98; U.S. and, 135, 140
approach to, 82–95; verification oil supplies: access to, 115–16
of, 96 openness of democracies, 83
nuclear technology: acquisition by Operation Desert Storm: Iraqi disar-
Iran, 7, 131; derailing of Iran’s mament after, 20
accelerated nuclear program, 8–9; Operation Iraqi Freedom. See Iraq
domestic debate over Iran’s right War (2003– )
to, 28–29; as energy diversifica- Organization of Petroleum Exporting
tion, 24–26, 155n3; IAEA man- Countries (OPEC), 78
dates on, 95; IAEA technical outlaw states. See rogue states
assistance to Iran, 100, 189n67;
incrementalism in, 60; infrastruc- Pakistan: exchange of nuclear technol-
ture in Iran, 11, 150n12, 163n3; ogy with rogue states, 2–3; gas
NPT and right to, 73–74, contracts with, 173n8; Iranian
178nn47–48; peaceful use vs. relations with, 15; Iran’s centrifuge
weapons program, 12–13, 45–46, technology and, 45, 164n5; Prolif-
150n12, 163nn2–3, 164n5; eration Security Initiative and,
restrictions as discrimination, 31, 182n9; support for Kashmiri ter-
159n31; revelation of Iran’s secret rorist attacks on India, 169n44
activities, 17, 63; Revolutionary Palestine: Iran’s support for, 89, 114,
Guards and, 49; self-sufficiency 131–32; as Muslim issue, 114; as
in, 46; transfer of, 3, 8, 85, U.S. Achilles heel, 114, 195n2
149n2; type of regime and pos- Parchin (Iran), 71
session of, 181n5; verification of, Paris agreement on uranium enrich-
96; Western distrust of Iran ment (2004), 69
regarding, 4. See also fuel cycle Perkovich, George, 172n75
nuclear weapons: acquisition of petroleum: access to, 115–16
designs for, 45, 164n6; in France’s Pir-Nozen, Nur, 166n19
defense budget, 171n67; lack of polarization, Iran–Arab, 114
Iranian public debate on acquir- politics, domestic: effects on nuclear
ing, 58–59; possession vs. option negotiations, 37, 40–43; hardline,
for, 55–62, 137, 172nn74–75; 28, 41, 157n15; nuclear technol-
unacceptability for Iran, 93, 95, ogy and, 27–36
186nn41–42 polonium, 45, 163n4
Powell, Colin, 165n9
objective guarantees, 74 pragmatic conservatives, 32, 34, 35
obstructionism, Iranian, 14 preemption: as U.S. policy, 21
oil nationalization crisis (1953), 17 preenrichment of uranium, 69
oil revenues: domestic consumption prevention: as policy response to Iran,
and reduction in, 24, 155n2; Iran 84
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Primakov, Yevgeni, 108–9 185n33; diplomacy effecting,
Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI): 145–47; dual containment vs., 4;
EU endorsement of, 103; nonpro- EU-3 views of, 104; inevitability
liferation enforcement by, 86, of, 136; military option for, 146;
165n9; Pakistan and China not nuclear capability as protection
members of, 182n9 against, 10, 181n5; as policy
public opinion, Iranian: on nuclear choice, 85; sanctions encourag-
technology as a right, 27–28, ing, 88–89; U.S. policy of, 16, 21,
157n12; skepticism regarding, 40, 76, 85, 88, 90, 138, 179n64; U.S.
161nn46–47 policy shift to democratization,
public opinion, U.S.: support for sanc- 84, 95, 122, 199n33; Western
tions and military option against desire for, 10–11
Iran, 94, 187n47 regional security, 113–33; access and
Putin, Vladimir, 109–10, 190n74, denial in, 115–16; border dis-
193n99, 193nn103–5, 194n108 putes and, 118; competition for
influence in, 134–35; conver-
Al Qaeda: Hezbollah vs., 52; Iran’s gence of Iran/U.S. interests in
cooperation with, 22, 52–54, 89, Iraq, 119–20; defensive objec-
114, 168n38, 168n42 tives, 115; exploitation of political
Qalibaf, Mohammad Bager, 30 instability, 114, 137, 195n3; fac-
Qatar: U.S. bases in, 123 tors in insecurity, 135; fear of Shi-
ite state in Iraq, 118; Iranian
Rafsanjani, Hashemi, 67; on Ameri- ambitions and, 117–22; Iran’s
cans bogged down in Iraq, 121, conception of, 118; Iraq as turn-
198n27; on arrogance of U.S., ing point for, 120; linked with
154n31; call for diplomacy on Iran’s security, 204n6; nuclear
nuclear issues, 34–35; on domes- capability and destabilization of,
tic missile program, 153n26; on 54–55, 169n47; outcome of Iraq
international status of Iran, War affecting, 119, 135; post-
152nn20–21, 198n29; on nuclear 9/11 extension of U.S. military
Iran, 156n9; on nuclear technol- presence, 116; regional responses
ogy, 30; offering Iranian support to nuclear Iran, 127–30; revolu-
to U.S. in Afghanistan, 22; on tionary Iran as role model for,
politics and nuclear negotiations, 113; sea-denial capability, 116,
40 121; spoiling strategy toward
Rahim (Revolutionary Guards com- U.S., 23, 115, 119, 155n39;
mander), 198n27 structural conditions in, 114;
Ramburg, Bennett, 157n16 undesirability of Iranian influence
reformists: support for nuclear pro- in Iraq, 117; U.S. as regional
gram, 31–32 state, 21; U.S. exclusion of Iran
regime change: as complement to from regional politics, 116. See
diplomacy and deterrence, also security policies of Iran
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Revolutionary Guards: aggressive lutionary state, 151n12; on U.S.
actions of, 169nn45–46; as custo- restrictions on nuclear Iran,
dians of nuclear capability, 54, 159n33; on weapons of mass
169n45; independent actions of, destruction, 57, 170n58
49, 167n22; influence in Iraq, Russia: alignment with EU-3 initia-
120; political role of, 49; on pos- tives, 109–10, 194nn108–10;
session of nuclear weapons, 56; approach to Iran’s nuclear ambi-
shift in power to, 136; support for tions, 108–12; arms sales to Iran,
Ahmadinejad, 32–33; technology 108–9, 131; distrust of Iran’s
transfer and, 49 negotiating behavior, 71; enrich-
revolutionary states: U.S. as, 21; val- ment alternatives proposal,
ues of, 19; view of world as hos- 42–43, 106, 111, 143, 192n92;
tile place, 14. See also Iran, strategic relationship with Iran,
revolutionary values of 15, 108, 114–15, 134, 196n5;
Rezai, Mohsen, 24, 30, 56, 152n22 strategic vs. nonproliferation con-
Rice, Condoleezza, 83, 127, 183n17, cerns of, 109, 110, 114, 160n39,
191n80, 199n33 195n4; training of Iranian techni-
Roberts, Brad, 149n2 cians, 109, 193n99
rogue states: as enablers of terrorism,
2, 51; Iran not typical of, 44; Safavi, Yahya Rahim, 56, 135
weapons of mass destruction and, Saidi, Mohammad, 70, 177n46
2–3 Salehi, Ali Akbar, 58, 72
rollback (reversal): as policy response Salimi, Mohammed, 75
to Iran, 84 sanctions: economic costs of, 87–88,
Ros-Lehtinen bill (U.S.), 87 116, 183n17; encouraging regime
Rowhani, Hasan: on acquisition of evolution, 88–89; as engagement
nuclear technology, 164n6; as tools, 143; ineffectiveness against
chief nuclear negotiator, 37, North Korea, 82; Iran’s lack of
38f–39f, 66–67, 174n11, fear of, 5; against nuclear prolifer-
174n14; on delay as negotiating ation, 87–88, 182n14; U.S. pub-
tactic, 73; on diplomacy and con- lic’s support for, 94, 187n47
fidence building, 30; on EU-3 role Sanders, Jackie, 185n37
as negotiator, 191n79; on global Sanger, David, 182n10
acceptance of nuclear Iran, Saudi Arabia: cooling relations with
156n9; on intensification of U.S., 127; on Iran’s nuclear ambi-
nuclear program, 150n10; on Iran tions, 128; strained relations with
relations with IAEA, 100–101; on Iran, 135, 204n9
Iran’s nuclear technology, 157n12; SCIRI (Supreme Council for the
on Iran’s regional ambitions, 117; Islamic Republic of Iraq), 120
on Libyan model for Iran, 76; on sea-denial capability of Iran, 116, 121
right to nuclear technology under security policies of Iran: insecurity
NPT, 178n47; on security of revo- and nuclear ambitions, 16;
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Iran–Iraq War and, 17–19, 20, strategic environment of Iran: culture
152n18, 153n24; legitimate and, 54; exploitation of ambigu-
issues in, 92, 186n39; regional ity, 136–37; negotiating strategies
security links to, 204n6. See also and, 65; since 9/11 attacks, 14
regional security submarines: Iran’s deployment outside
self-deception: exaggerated self- Gulf, 131
importance of Iran, 163n2; in Sundarji, Krishnaswamy, 20, 21
negotiating strategies, 80, 175n26 Sunni Arab nationalism, 114
self-sufficiency: as justification for Supplementary Act 12938 Presidential
nuclear ambitions, 24–26, 156n5 Directive (U.S.), 186n42
September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks: Supreme Council for the Islamic
EU position on WMD prolifera- Republic of Iraq (SCIRI), 120
tion and, 102–3; impact on Iran’s Supreme Leader. See Khamenei, Ali
strategic environment, 14; initial Supreme National Security Council
Iran reaction to, 21; U.S. military (SNSC), 31, 37, 38f
presence in Middle East follow- Syria: Iran relations with, 122, 136
ing, 116; U.S. strategic priorities
following, 1, 2–3 Tajikistan: Iran/Russian cooperation
Shamkhani, Ali, 16; on Iran–Iraq War in, 108, 114
and security policy, 152n18; on Taliban: in Afghanistan, Iran/Russian
missiles as deterrence, 117; on cooperation against, 14, 15, 108,
missile technology as metaphor, 114; post-9/11 Iranian hostility
165n11; opposition to nuclear toward, 21
weapons for Iran, 57–58, terrorism: Iran’s support for, 51–54,
170n60; on U.S. threat to Iran, 16 83–84, 136; Iran’s use of proxies
Shanghai Cooperative Organization, against U.S. and France, 153n24;
134 nuclear proliferation and, 1; tacti-
Shariatmadari, Hussein, 162n52 cal relations with terrorist groups,
Shiites: Iran cultivating ties with, 122; 53; technology transfer and,
Iran’s potential exploitation of, 50–51; U.S. response to, 2,
118, 135; as Islamic minority, 15, 50–51, 167n28; weapons of mass
114 destruction and, 2, 50–51
Shirzad, Ahmad, 31, 159n31 theater missile defenses (TMD), 146
Singh, Manhoman, 150n3 Timmerman, Kenneth, 184n28
Sistani, Ali, 120 Torkan, Akbar, 169n48
SNSC (Supreme National Security Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of
Council), 31, 37, 38f Nuclear Weapons (NPT), 1; diffi-
Solana, Javier, 71, 184n31 culties in tightening, 6; discontent
Soviet Union, 7, 15. See also Russia with, 11; full fuel cycle as right of
status discrepancy of Iran, 14 participants, 73–74; IAEA rela-
stock market: hardline negotiations tionship to, 95–96; Iran desire to
and, 28, 157n15 stay within, 12; Iranian claims of
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discrimination under, 4; Iranian Iran as nation vs. regime, 84; lack
domestic support for leaving, 29; of international support for tech-
Iran’s threats to withdraw from, nology transfer limits, 8; preemp-
17, 139; Janus-faced nature of, 5; tive strategy in, 21; pressure for
limitation of access to nuclear referral of Iran to UNSC, 81, 91,
materials by terrorists, 86, 93–94, 98, 104, 189n60; regime
182n10; loopholes in, 2, 5–6; change as (See regime change);
North Korea’s withdrawal from, regime type and possession of
63; right to nuclear technology nuclear technology, 181n5;
under, 178nn47–48 requirements for resolving differ-
Turkey: concerns over Iran’s regional ences with Iran, 143–45; response
influence, 135; cooling relations to Iran’s nuclear ambitions,
with U.S., 127; Iranian relations 82–85; restraint in dealing with
with, 15; response to nuclear North Korea, 20–21, 153n27;
Iran, 129 shift from regime change to
democratization, 84, 95, 122,
ultranationalism, 50, 77–78, 136 199n33; strategic context of Mid-
United Arab Emirates, 118, 173n8 dle East and, 122–23; strategic
United Kingdom, 155n39 priorities following 9/11 attacks,
United Nations Secretary General 1, 2–3; support for EU-3 diplo-
High-Level Panel on Threats, matic initiative, 91–93, 103–6,
Challenges, and Change, 149n5 141–42, 185n43, 191n80,
United Nations Security Council 191n84; unilateral posture of, 83;
(UNSC): EU-3 agreement to use of multilateral institutions in,
report Iran to, 106–7; IAEA 86. See also Iran–U.S. relations
reporting obligations to, 181n1; UNSC. See United Nations Security
ineffectiveness in dealing with Council (UNSC)
North Korea, 82; Iran disrespect uranium enrichment: clandestine
for authority of, 4–5; referral of facilities for, 139; EU-3/U.S. posi-
Iran to, 81, 98–99; reporting vs. tions in Iran negotiations, 105,
referral of issues to, 185n35; Res- 191n86; failure to declare activi-
olution 1540, 86; U.S. pressure ties, 68; IAEA support for some
for referral of Iran to, 93–94, 98, capability by Iran, 99; Iran’s quest
104, 189n60 for, 4; justification for, 22, 25–26,
United States foreign policy: creation 163n3; negotiations on, 67–70,
of new Middle East regional 72–73; nuclear reactor technology
order, 3; dual containment as, 4, vs. need for, 25–26; peaceful use
115–16; formal policy vs. attitude as cover for weapons program,
toward Iran, 4; on fuel cycle for 99; resumption of research on,
Iran, 105; historical distrust of 78; Russian proposal for alterna-
Iran, 90, 184n31; incoherence of tives to, 42–43, 106, 111, 143,
policy toward Iran, 82, 90, 138; 192n92; suspension of, 9–10,
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40–41, 86, 102, 104–5, 162n50, weapons of mass destruction free zone
190n74, 191n86; threats to (WMDFZ), 128, 130
resume, 68 weapons technology. See arms sales;
missiles; nuclear technology
Velayati, Ali Akbar, 51–52, 75, Weisman, Steve, 194n111
152n22, 168n35 Weldon, Kurt, 184n28
virtual arsenals, 172n74 WMD. See weapons of mass destruc-
tion (WMD)
War on Terrorism, 21 Wohlstetter, Albert, 5
weapons of mass destruction (WMD): World Trade Organization (WTO), 92
Iran claims of opposition to,
57–58, 170nn58–60; as justifica- Yazdi, Taghi Mesbahi, 33
tion for U.S. attack on Iraq, 20; yellowcake, 164n6
rogue states’ cooperation regard- Yeltsin, Boris, 108
ing, 1, 2–3; technology transfer to
terrorists, 50–51; underestimation zirconium plant (Isfahan), 68, 164n6
of Iraq program, 82 Zolgadr (General), 169n46
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About the Author

hahram Chubin is Director of Studies at the Geneva Centre for
S Security Policy. He was a visiting scholar at the Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace in 1994 and served as Direc-
tor of Regional Security Studies at the International Institute for
Strategic Studies in London.

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Carnegie Endowment
for International Peace
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is a private, nonprofit orga-
nization dedicated to advancing cooperation between nations and promoting
active international engagement by the United States. Founded in 1910,
Carnegie is nonpartisan and dedicated to achieving practical results.

Through research, publishing, convening and, on occasion, creating new insti-
tutions and international networks, Endowment associates shape fresh policy
approaches. Their interests span geographic regions and the relations between
governments, business, international organizations, and civil society, focusing
on the economic, political, and technological forces driving global change.
Through its Carnegie Moscow Center, the Endowment helps to develop a tra-
dition of public policy analysis in the states of the former Soviet Union and to
improve relations between Russia and the United States. The Endowment
publishes Foreign Policy, one of the world’s leading journals of international
politics and economics, which reaches readers in more than 120 countries and
in several languages.

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